Refreshed! For the first time in more than two weeks, I slept until I was refreshed.
Excited! For the first time since the death of Master Vontaze, I was excited about my work. My research. I had his books. I had some sort of magical device to explore. I had puzzles from the Underdark and from the fey woods. I had time!
I settled on the bone cylinder with scrimshaw for my first object of research. I looked up some of the symbols, but only found one in a reference book about the gods. The symbol, goat eyes in a skull surrounded, is a seldom-used icon for Bane, God of War and Conquest.
I used my scrying spell to discern more and to my surprise, I found myself looking upon raw pain. The aura was of a deep red hue, tinted with black on the edges. It looked like long, barbed thorns sticking out of the bone in all directions. In fact, after seeing the aura, I become more afraid about touching it and lancing myself. Of course, auras don’t work in that way, but the image cried out to my mind. In addition to the needles, long tendrils came from the ends and hovered in the air. My gasp at the aura sent the tendrils quivering, and a little testing showed they responded to sound. As I turned the bone, I found two unfamiliar symbols outlined. I copied them down and poured through the library..
A couple hours and an untouched breakfast later, I found the symbols in another book on archaic languages. The symbols, pronounced Ba’aash Ki, roughly translate to ‘command me to suffer’ or maybe ‘grant me suffering.’ The barbed thorns in the aura came to mind.
Given these clues, I began postulating the purpose of the device. The tendrils response to sound made me think of this as a listening device. Perhaps they respond to other types of magical messaging as well. The use of such a rare archaic language made me think it was meant to be a secret, or used in secrecy. My wand, by comparison, was quite easy to employ with it’s use of a common elvish word. If my suppositions were correct, this may allow some sort of communication. And, my final assumption, the thorny aura would actually inflict the pain it implies in the magical energy. This was more of a fear than a conclusion. How could something look so painful, and not inflict pain?
I came out of the library, almost in a fever. Maybe, I had actually found a way to help my friends without putting them in danger. Maybe, we could listen to our enemies. I hoped the reverse wasn’t true.
My joy fled when Gledrick and Aimon arrived and announced that I must pack immediately to go to the northern mountains. I assured them that my research was more critical. In fact, I’d already had a minor breakthrough. They obviously couldn’t understand the importance and insisted again. They pushed. I resisted. They argued. I protested. Gledrick, as always, spoke plainly.
“This is stupid. Get packed. You’re going.”
The conversation eventually escalated to a point where Aimon challenged me to defend my decisions.
“We need you, ”/characters/robinov" class=“wiki-content-link”>Robinov! Why won’t you come with us?"
Gledrick, attempting some sort of compromise suggested I could do my research on the road. Silly dwarf!
“You don’t want me with you!” I stated with more emotion than I intended.
“Why not?” pushed Aimon.
I couldn’t help the sudden torrent of emotion. “I killed ”/characters/alexey-darkstep" class=“wiki-content-link”>Alexey, except for your knowledge of healing. I have been more of a burden than a help, falling twice to mere goblins – again, relying on your healing. I couldn’t protect Brogue. I couldn’t help Omlet. I let the worgs kill Gledrick. The Cough is going to ruin us at some point. You and Gledrick and Alexy are always putting yourself in danger to try to protect me." I took a breath…finally.
“You’re forgetting..” started Aimon. But, I interrupted with the coup de gras, “I couldn’t even run across a log to your aid when you were under attack. Alexey had to rescue me from the damned log!”
Gledrick turned his head away for a moment. His neck turned red. Aimon paused, shook his head, and started again.
“You’re forgetting how many times you’ve saved one of us.” He stepped toward me. “You somehow turned a bugbear on his own kind. You put goblins to sleep faster than Gledrick puts down ales in the Bludgeoning Ogre. Alexey would have died anyway, with that swarm covering him and you simply gave him, and us, a chance. You,” here he assumed an air of officiality," Robinov the Bugbear Slayer, stole Gledrick’s kill with a mere flick of your dagger."
Silence held it’s breath between us.
Despite my best attempt, I couldn’t help a small grin at the last comment. Gledrick had been so mad he took his aggression out on a poor goblin warrior that never even saw him coming. Splat!
We all breathed again. “I need two days,” I said. I had a new spell partly researched and I wanted to finish if I could.
Gledrick nodded. “You’ll have them.”
Maybe Gledrick is right. Maybe I can do some reading on the journey.