The Jackal’s Price: LoF Session XXXII
From the Journals of Glarthobbalvot Treeglabarrow the Most Excellent Cataloger of Interesting Things of Interest
Wow! What a state! I’ve never seen someone scream so much in my life… Well come to think of it, if I’d met more people alive in the House of the Beast I bet that wouldn’t be true. Not very easy to be scared when you’re dead. Actually, that would very much depend on what mood Pharasma was in I suppose. If the fluctuations of the primal states that accompany the like of Suerbahn in his own realm can undo man as they do, I can only imagine what being a demon’s chosen pal for then next 10,000 years could do. In fact, considering the revelations we’ve encountered concerning the sphinx it’s not impossible that wasn’t the intended trade. Hmmm…. But I suppose, you reader are not yet aware. In time! In time!
When we saw him, he was quite undone indeed. Suggestions were made by others to simply put him out of his misery. Nevertheless, we choose to continue on. We recognized him as the murderer of the Gynosphinx, mate to the owner of the estate in which we found ourselves. To murder a sphinx! The gall! Such an excellent creature of wisdom and knowledge! How foolish and vain can one be?!
We left him where he was, a preferable choice in my eyes and found ourselves in a hall with four doors. The nearest to us was unlit and exceptionally dark to the dim eyes of my companions, but I could see! Altars and remnants of a long forgotten people’s foolish practices of Sphinx worship as we latter learned. But patience reader!
The following door was large and of stone. Of such size and heft that moving would be impractical. What terrible pain it was to move onward without knowing what they hid! Precious gems? A portal to heaven!? Gah! What heartache it was! But there was no means to open it and no mechanisms by which to engage.
Directly across however was an interesting find. A desk, covered in scrolls and adorned with a strange, mechanical device shaped to resemble a very large hand of a man. A specialized glove of one sort or another. Upon further examination I realized that the Sphinx was using this device to author a work. The fingers were meticulously placed to allow for it to hold a pen and enable him to scribe. What we wrote though was a mystery as none could understand his tongue and considerations of decoding were beyond our constraints.
As the group turned the corner to investigate the final door in the hall and it’s strangely contrived locking mechanism, I was able to quickly take note of a large rugged room and a much smaller room of the same sort directly attached. Within the smaller room the walls contained all sorts of geometrical figures and equations which appeared to explain their dimensions the relation of their dimensions. In the hall, the group struggled with the lock. Sets of numbers both down and across, in no easily discernible pattern. I had barely begun to think of any possible relationship between the two when Ce-Tan attempted to unlock the door with a knock spell. This caused the trap to spring and the door exploded toward them. I was well out of the way, but Zahkmed was not so lucky. He was however quick and was able to mostly escape the force of the explosion.
Then, before us, as the smoke cleared and Zhakmed found his feet, was the most astounding Library! Unfortunately there was also a very much perturbed Sphinx. Considering that we had just blown apart his door I suppose that was to be expected. Game Over, the two of which we had captured, was thrust before the Sphinx as Ce-Tan declared our victory. The Sphinx which we had expected to find was not the sphinx we encountered however. He clawed closely at a book beneath him, protecting it from our prying eyes, and was in no mood for negotiation. Ce-Tan’s frustration at this lead him to make an unfortunate comment about the magical creatures inability to protect his family… and… well, the sphinx was most displeased.
Letting out a deafening roar, a wave of fear washed across us. I was able to resist it and my party members appeared to as well, but Ce-Tan was immediately silenced by the creature as he cast a spell which sewed shut his lips. What an imaginative little gag! Could be quite useful actually…. The beasts with the sphinx attacked but we put them down easily Zahkmed, however found himself in quite the situation. Funny little spell encased him in an hourglass, slowly drowing in sand. We were able to smash it, but not without effort, conical hardened glass you see, no small feat.
Freeing the drunk we noted the beast had positioned itself directly over the book, I could see it beneath his paw. He seemed… Preoccupied with its defense. Using an aqueous orb, I was able to push him off the book and Ce-Tan was able to steal it with with a quick spell. I’ve seen books over come some of lesser wills before and I’ve seen the great power they can contain, knowing such you may well understand my fascination with them, but a creature of this sort of intelligence and wisdom? Such a book simply MUST be had. As soon as it was in our hands it became clear that the Sphinx was possessed by a great power. As our companions fought we examined the book. A spell to clear magic was of no success, but ol’ Filliped provided a way for us when he “overslept” after drinking my little beer tea and allowed me to “borrow” a few of his scrolls. When we read the little script to break enchantments the power left the sphinx and his wits returned to him.
He was quite befuddled for a moment, but quickly realized what had happened. In the agony of losing his mate he had taken to the power of the book and it had overcome him. Despite his wisdom, it seems he simply hadn’t taken the right approach in his investigation.
He was most apologetic, and genuinely desired to make things right with the town. Chasagra, in repentance, told us of his plan to leave the town and his disgrace behind, but offered to us his library, [necklace/breast plate thing], and his keep as a means of making right.
Having cleared the keep of the evil, we set off back to town, taking with us the lone prisoner, a merchant who had contracted with Game Over and caused the slaughter of the people. Dragging him back to town to face his victims was not difficult. Convincing the sorcerer not force him into a contract to sell him his wife and children, on the other hand, proved to be more challenging. Those of us who preferred him face justice, rather than live as a slave, overcame eventually and Ce-Tan agreed if only to finish our task.
The “leaders” of the town however were spineless. The one man to whom we spoke was such a worm, so incapable of making decisions that he turned to the PRISONER to consult him for advice! He very much wanted to free the man, but we forced his hand. The prisoner would face execution for the crimes, or we would not make peace with the sphinx on their behalf.
Ce-Tan, not being one to allow a good business opportunity pass, negotiated a settlement between ourselves, the sphinx, and the town, divvying up the Oasis in exchange for the mans participation in the killing of the Sphinx, the Sphinx’s killing of the town’s people and our reward for resolving the conflict. With Faharid monitoring the contract both free and slave alike were granted land and provisions were made to allow for sales to be made by slaves at a fair market price. We, of course, walked away with nearly a quarter of the land. It will be an excellent sight for future research which may require a… more secluded location. One of the keep towers will do nicely for my share perhaps, but such things have not yet been settled.
Yes… Indeed, what practitioner of the arts hasn’t fancied himself his own little spire?
In anycase, in the morrow we carry on toward The-Well-of-Never-Go-There to take care of this book. The evil tome which corrupted the sphinx has been entrusted to us toward its destruction. Before we left his presence we promised to carry it to the well, the only place where it might be destroyed, and swore and oath to never read it. With any luck, we’ll be able to dispose of it rather quickly.