Across the horizon, the fading sunlight lit the heavens as the fiercely glowing sun is cloaked in mysterious darkness. A large wemic bearing the symbol of Torm the True glances worriedly over at a slender Mindthief.
“This dosen’t bode well for us, nor our lady,” suggests the feline Nedok.
“I agree. I’d imagine Varalla is a wee bit busy answering everybody’s questions right now. Think we should go and find Erok ? He’ll probably know what’s going on” whispers the dark cloaked Ivan.
Nedok frowns. “He does have that annoying tendency, dosen’t he ? I’ll bet you a gold we’ll find him at the tavern !”
Ivan just chuckles. “No bet. It’s almost lunchtime, and Erok NEVER misses a meal.”
The warrior priest of Torm grins at Ivan in the darkness, then pads softly towards Erok’s Tavern.
After a short walk across V’Ral, Nedok and Ivan approach the Inn of the Drunken Ogre. As they get near, they can see the outline of what appears to be an enormous 13 foot tall humanoid blocking the entrance. His massive arms are upraised to the sky and he chants the language of magic in a powerful gutteral baritone. “Margash Joras Nollen Pyroth. Grissit Magus, Grissit Blazz. Itel Forna Drilid Flammus. Margash Nepps U Hallem Pyroth !!”
Suddenly, a small bluish-white arc of raw magic leaps from the figures hands and forms a glittering, sparking 3-foot circle upon the ground. With the sound of a tree cracking, 3 smaller arcs touch in the center and a bright orange flash erupts from the circle. Blinking in the sudden light, Nedok and Ivan see what appears to be a small bonfire roaring out of the center of the magical circle. Illuminated behind it stands the biggest damn ogre they had ever seen. Starting in alarm, Nedok draws both of his two handed swords with a metallic “Shiiiing” and growls at the monster. Ivan begins activating a mental power, when abruptly he realizes that the towering figure before them resembles Erok, a LOT. Looking nervously at the wemic, who is entering Deathkitty mode, Ivan peers at the enormous Ogre.
“Say, you wouldn’t happen to be related to Erok, would ye ?”
The gigantic figure frowns at the hostile Nedok and rumbles deeply “I am his father, Arg. And you, no doubt, are the famed Legionnaires he speaks so highly of in his letters.”
Ivan had no idea a skeleton could blush, but Nedok seemed to be doing just that. “Erm, yes, well…sorry about that. We’ve never encountered a friendly Ogre before,” he spoke as his bony frame slowly resumed its normal, furry form.
Smoothing down his ruffled fur, he offers his hand in friendship. “I am Nedok of Torm, and this is my adventuring companion, Ivan. We are members of the Fallen Legion, good sir.”
Arg solemnly shakes hands with both of the legionnaires. Ivan grins as his upper forearm is engulfed by the Ogre’s massive hand. “Pleased to meet you, boys. I just dropped by to visit with Varalla, and some damn fool blew out the sun.” He frowns up at the darkened sky and mutters “probably that idiot Wolfgang”.
The great lumbering ogre sits down and appears to warm his feet by the fire. He sticks out his big bottom lip and says sullenly “Now she’s too busy to talk to me.” Ivan coughs to cover his fit of snickering, as the huge ogre looks exactly like a big replica of Erok. Nedok appears to notice this as well, but merely smiles faintly. “So, Arg. What news of the realms beyond Daerma?”
Arg yawns contentedly. “Not much happening at ‘da moment. Got a few free days afore all hell breaks loose when ‘da Netherese cities attack Argopolis. Daren ‘da Powermaster has been gearing up beer production for the Grand Games he is sponsoring. Most of ‘da dwarves are making a titanic beer ziggurat to hold all the beer necessary for the event.”
“What exactly is a powermaster?” Ivan asked quietly.
“Games? What sort of games?” queried Nedok.
“Oh, Wolfgang was adventuring on a quest for Daren and stumbled across the Axe of the Dwarvish Lords. He gave it to Daren, who poked at it a few times, grew a beard and lost his spellcasting ability for a week. Daren then prounounced the object Cursed and refused to have anything to do with it. Lamenting the loss of his magic at the bar one night, his friend Damar offered the solution of a “Grand Tournament” amongst all the dwarves in the land, to see who would reclaim the Axe for their people. Damar suggested that only dwarven kings be allowed to enter, as the winner would be crowned the Highking of the Dwarves.”
“Of course, preparation for this event was made that much more interesting once the Great Resurrection restored all the dwarves in the land. Kings and their allowed contingent of bodyguards have been showing up from all across Toril. A few even landed in the great spelljamming forgemountains the dwarves love so much. That threw the Athasians for a loop, lemme tell ya…”
Arg spins about to face Ivan…”Now, somewhere back ‘dere you asked about Power Masters…and what they are…which is a long, long story, lemme tell ya…”
“Many millennia ago, when the world was a much different place than today, a race of beings was born. Crafted from the foundation blocks of the very universe, the Overgod gave them the ability to work with this new energy, called Magic. The old gods were called down to guide this race of beings, that they could learn and grow and prosper, becoming a superior species of spellcaster.”
“During the thousand years of their reign, they learned to weave the very fabric of life into both creatures and items they painstakingly crafted. Many wondrous things were born in that era. Magic was unrestricted to them, and the gods favored this race with patience and knowledge. And still they evolved.”
“Working with energies too powerful for mere mortals to comprehend, they fashioned a servitor race from the common Faerie stock of the world. Fair of skin and pointed of ear, this race blossomed across the world, following their master’s whims and wishes. They were called Magnesti, one of the firstborn races of elves.”
“But as happens with all things, nothing can last forever. The great empire of the Race of One (as they termed themselves) began to divide. One of the groups advocated mastery of spell casting, whilst the other believed that magic was greater when bound to material objects. Eventually, the two sides began warring amongst themselves. Thus were born the sub races, the Power Masters who were masters of magic, and the Ancients – masters of enchanted items.”
“For many, many hundreds of years their magical warfare tore at the face of the world, destroying all the beauty that the Gods had created there. The war seemed endless.”
“Finally, one of the old Gods decided to intervene. He appealed to the Power Masters to stop the fighting, stop the war before all was lost. Thinking that the Ancients had somehow bound this deity against them, the enraged Power Masters united and, under a masterful barrage of spells, slew the deity where he stood. This shocked the Power Masters, to the point of pushing their madness to new heights. Believing themselves demigods, the Power Masters waged war across the planes. The race of Ancients saw what their enemy was attempting, and raised their war up into the planar gates as well. Many gods, caught between powerful magics that they themselves had helped craft, were slain that day. Tasting the forbidden power of divine artifacts, the Ancients made their fell mistake. Gathering up all the artifacts together, a band of the most powerful ancients declared war on the Overgod, their Creator. Attacking him in his private sanctum, the Ancients shot, exploded, and threw everything they had into vanquishing their mighty Master.”
“Finally, the leader of the Ancients, taking the arcane staff of a slain God of Magic, shoved the staff up the Overgod’s nose and triggered its retributive strike.”
As can be imagined, this caused the Overgod no small amount of pain, and he was overcome with anger. His fury lit the very sphere, and using his supreme powers, he instantly slew each and every Ancient with one, final thunderclap.”
“Now the spell hungry Power Masters, having witnessed their enemy’s total destruction, sought a different goal. Sneaking into the Overgod’s library, the band of Power Masters sought to master the magics that had allowed the Overgod to obliterate an entire species. Finding a strange book called “Advanced Clockmaking”, they began to peruse magics never meant for mortal men. The leader grew excited and began incanting from its pages, a mighty spell to throw down the Overgod.”
History does not tell of what happened thereafter, but a second thunderclap was heard throughout the worlds, and every trace of living Power Masters disappeared that day as well.”
Arg takes a deep breath…”Now, we fast forward a few dozen millenia”
“Less than a hundred years ago, a new Overgod came into being. Having achieved such supremely divine status, the old Overgod decided to retire and let the new Overgod run this sphere.”
“The new Overgod, after reading of such horrors as was inflicted upon the world, decided to allow the race of Power Masters and ancients one more chance. Looking about on his new world, the Overgod found a likely candidate. A spell hungry young mage named Daren, who was seeking to master magics that were forbidden by the Gods of Magic.”
“Whispering into this youngster’s ear, ancient tales of lost magics, he guided the young wizard into exploring the other pathways of magic, that of the holy man and that of the mentalist. Once the young man (now a middle-aged magus) had achieved mastery of the highest levels of magic allowed by divine law, the Overgod sent him on dangerous, even fatal missions to find items the Ancients had left behind.”
“Using the powers of a crazy alchemist, an extremely powerful cleric, and a resourceful young merchant, he guided the instincts of the beings into melding the young man with the ancient, arcane magics. Several times during the process, the man’s body couldn’t withstand the enormous magical stresses placed upon it, and died. Only to be shortly resurrected by the powerful cleric in the room. Day after day, they infused the young man with titanic amounts of spell energy, magical items, and strange elixirs from the crazed alchemist.”
After the process was complete, the first Power Master was reborn into the world. Daren, The Power Master.”
Arg sighs…”And ‘dat is the tale of the Power Masters…from birth to end…”
Arg smiles down at Ivan…”Yes… in fact, I myself was made what I am today by Daren the Power Master… I underwent that transformation.”
“And the requirements are supreme mastery of clerical, wizardly and psionic powers, and artifacts left behind by the ancients?” Ivan inquired with interest.
Arg answered with nothing more than a thought “Correct… and the sponsorship of said powerful beings (an alchemist of great skill, a cleric of extreme power, and a merchant of no small ability).”
“Is druidic magic close enough or does one actually have to be a cleric?” Ivan asked.
“Druidic magic is close enough…they are the same class of magic, just a different flavor…in fact, one of my splinters is a druid… as Erok has no doubt told you…” replied Arg.
“And if your throat is not parched from that long story, Sir Arg, could you perhaps tell me of one, Ayla? I’ve heard a bit about her.” Ivan asked.
Arg shudders at the name…”Ayla… called the Forsaken…is the daughter of the crazed alchemist that helped make Daren into a Power Master…”
Arg glares towards the horizon…”I would say her name lightly, Ivan…she is more dangerous, in her own way, than a room full of Artak worshippers…The Forsaken one was born under a full moon, more crazed than any were beast…Finding the taste of blood to her liking, the young lass had an intuitive grasp of magic and a morbid curiosity as to how living things “worked”. This morbidity festered in the young magus, and she naturally began researching the dark arts of Necromancy.”
After achieving mastery of the darker arts of magic, Ayla sought out more and more explicit tomes of physiology and alchemy. After wandering thru her adventuring years, the attractive lass found an old, musty tower whose walls appeared to be completely coated with a reddish-brown paint. Venturing inside, she found a school of Alchemic Masters, who were crafting their own species of creature.”
“Instantly intrigued by the ongoing experiments, she joined with the old masters, working by their side, round the clock, until the experiment was complete. Only then, after she’d been among them for almost a week, did the other Alchemists realize a stranger had entered their midst.”
“Finding her a kindred spirit, the old ones initiated Ayla into a different form of Alchemy than she had ever dreamed possible. Eagerly, she accepted the pain of initiation and gleefully cast her Necromantic spell book, arcane items, and even clothing upon the pyre to burn. Cackling madly, she began learning at an almost frantic pace from the elders, absorbing knowledge they had labored a lifetime to acquire.”
“After several years of being immersed in the most horrible experiments imaginable, the young woman emerged with untold knowledge of the inner workings of life itself. Setting her sights on the world, she set off to find her happiness. On that day, the world shook in fear.”
Arg looks down at Ivan…”The Forsaken One is currently living in the Shaar…she was forcibly removed from my own city of Ogres for plotting against me and my children, and now deals with attacks by the Dwarves of the Great Rift.”
“It would be interesting to meet her one day…after I’ve gained enough power to have a chance of surviving.” Ivan remarked. “The risk of death and worse, and perhaps nightmares later on, would be a small price to pay to learn some of what she knows.”
Arg ‘s laugh echoes across the land…”HA!! Ivan, on that day I will buy you all the beer you can drink… for if you survive the nightmare that is Ayla, you shall indeed need it…”
Arg peers down at Ivan…”Then my advice to you, Ivan, friend of Erok, is to visit the Forsaken before you attain Power Mastery… for if you wait until afterward, i guarantee that all you’ll get from her is a sharp, slicing pain in your backside…”
Ivan spoke “I’m always ready for an interesting challenge. And this looks like a worthy one. When I am ready, I think I shall seek her out.”
Arg gingerly patted Ivan on the back (as if afraid of breaking him)…”Good luck to thee, Lad… you’ll have need of every blessing Tymora sees fit to grant ye…” A curious look ran over Ivan’s face, “How did the great resurrection occur?”
Arg grins…”Ah, now ‘dat is a story for Sorvani to tell… he was ‘dere… I just heard about it…”