This is a map I drew of the area so far known to the Tarenvale Travelers.
I don't know if it is accurate or to scale.

The Adventures of Rothus, page 48 [D-829]

Camp of the Oracle, after the attack:

I guess it’s not really the camp of the Oracle anymore. I don’t have another name for it, though. It’s like Evan says, if we start to think of a place as home the Gods will see fit to destroy it. We assume that Joachim is dead. We found the bodies of Pippin and Judeau where they fought valiantly. Florm was nearby. Fost did survive, but injured. The coven that trained Lily is down to a single member. Roran himself is in a near-death state. He breathes, but that is about all that he does.

There are too many dead to bury. Some wanted to anyway and I can’t blame them for that, but there are just too many. Work teams have been assembled to give each of the dead their due and then burn the corpses outside the camp. The smell returns to the tents anyway. The ashes and smoke rise up toward the Gods where the wind catches them. I wish I had paid more attention when the Sister Daily explained what happened to the dead. I can’t remember what Erastil says to them when they meet him. I can’t remember any of it.

We are all exhausted. Physically and mentally worn out. Lily seems to have energy, though. It is a duty-bound energy, from the desire to see Dalton’s ashes back in Tarenvale and buried as is proper. Even though his final act was traitorous, the majority of his life was honest and inspiring. “I’m going to Tarenvale to bury Dalton’s ashes. If you want to come with you can, but I’m leaving soon,” Lily tells the group.

“We’re not done with the funerals, we still need to sort out the remaining tents and supplies. We don’t even know what’s going to be the future of this camp. We’ll go to Tarenvale, just be patient,” Evan says.

The Adventures of Rothus, page 47 [D-828]

Outside the camp of the oracle, three days later:

Travis leads us up to some forest that we start to recognize. We must be close to camp. Joachim’s going to be really glad to see these bracers. Then maybe we can go back to Tarenvale and see Mother.

Evan stops the party, “Hey guys, I hear the sounds of battle. Rothus, go check it out, okay?”

I drop down and move closer to the clearing. I can hear the noises now and I peek out to see … Dalton and Roran are fighting! Each other! I jump up and run up, “Hey, what the heck is going on?!”

Roran pushes me away with his free hand, “Get out of here, boy!” He then gets a solid grip on his sword and charges at Dalton yelling, “Traitor!” What is going on here? Does this have something to do with Iregor’s warning? The silver dragon said that he doesn’t trust Dalton, that he threatens the whole world. Is it possible that Iregor was right and that Roran knows it too now? I hope Dalton’s not evil.

Travis fires a shot into the melee, but misses them both. Who was he aiming for?!

Then, the battle slows down as our attention moves to something else. Some sort of shadow is taking shape. I would almost say it is alive, but that’s absurd. Then what is clearly an arm extends out of the mass of darkness and a mouth forms the words, “This ends now.” The hand forms a glowing sphere and throws it at Roran. He is knocked away from Dalton and lands a little ways from our party. I run up to help him. He’s unconscious, but I think he’s still alive. I hope Aeryn can do something!

“Master, I have it for you.” The words seem to be coming from Dalton’s mouth, but that’s clearly impossible. He’d never serve such a being. Without any regard for possibility, he stumbles over to the shadow and hands it a stone. The peculiar rock shifts colors from red to orange to yellow and back to red. That’s not something you see everyday! Is it a stone of power? I don’t know what they look like, but it must be something really important to convince Dalton to strike down Roran!

The shadow grabs the stone, “Ha ha ha!” Then the stone glows into a solid flame. The shadow wields it uncertainly for a moment, but then looks right at Dalton. A heart-beat later Dalton bursts into flame! It consumes him whole! Then the shadow flows back to where ever it came from, running like a common criminal.

I suddenly realize that Aeryn is by my side checking on Roran. “He’ll survive, but he needs rest,” she says.

Travis runs up to where Dalton once stood. All that remains are ashes and his prized sword. Dalton was always protecting Tarenvale, even when we didn’t know it. He sacrificed himself so that we could get out safely when the beasts swarmed the town. He and Roran were our guardians, the ones we could depend on, and now his final act was to serve some terrible shadow from the void. There is no justice in this.

Travis collects Dalton’s sword. “You have no right to that!” Lily yells. She stares Travis in the face and we all argue about what must happen with the blade. We’ll have to keep it. We can’t just leave it here.

“You can hold onto it, but you can’t sell it without telling me, okay?” I say. Tavis then wraps it up in a blanket (no point telling the whole world we have it).

Lily bends down and collects Dalton’s ashes and puts them into a bag where they mix with her tears. She then takes the bag and wanders off into the woods by herself. No one is brave enough to tell her to stay.

The rest of us carry Roran to the camp on Evan’s re-purposed tent. From here it looks quiet. Honestly, if Roran and Dalton were fighting, I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone hid out of sheer terror. Carrying Roran keeps our pace pretty slow.

When we finally reach the tents and wagons we see why no one was down in the clearing. There are bodies everywhere. Their corpses are strewn about left for the survivors to move. We bring Roran into his tent and make sure he is stable.

Aeryn and Lotech immediately move about the camp to heal the injured. There are a lot of them, but some of the people have already organized a space outside the healer’s tent.

Evan, Travis and I don’t have any healing skills, we’d only get in the way. I try and think how we can help, and it suddenly hits me. If I were an enemy of the camp, like a lizardman or something, right now would be the perfect time to attack. Dalton weakened us, I can’t let someone else finish us. Wandering around the camp there are a lot of people who are just sitting, despondent. They don’t know what to do and so they do nothing. I get as many of them as I can to stand up and follow me around. We just walk the perimeter of the camp, watching for threats. Well, they’re pretty out of it, I might be the only one keeping an eye out.

Evan and Travis go to Joachim’s tent. They find the spot where it was, but the burnt remains leave nothing ti find. The Oracle’s wagon is the same. They go to see what they can find in Dalton’s tent. It, of course, is totally unharmed. There isn’t anything particularly shocking.

After a while, all of us (except Lily) find ourselves outside the healer’s tent moving stuff, setting stuff up and what not. Aeryn gets worried about her and goes off to find her. When she doesn’t come back, Travis goes off to look as well. They both come back saying that Lily just wants to be alone.

Evander Smith – Déjà vu Part the Last

“Yeah,” said Evander. They walked around camp, most people were too shocked to speak and those that did just said “Dalton…”

“Let’s check out his tent,” suggested Evander. Dalton’s tent was one of the few still standing. It seemed that the people were to afraid to approach it, Travis and Evander easily got in. They searched through his belongings but found nothing of note.

“Here, you should have this,” said Travis handing over Dalton’s sword. “You’ll probably get more use out of it than I will.”

“Thanks,” said Evander taking a sheet and wrapping up the blade. Evander left to set up his tent and stored his belongings. After that Evander volunteered to help the healers. He continued to work until his body began to feel like lead and he retired to a nightmare filled sleep.

Evander Smith – Déjà vu Part the Eighth

They continued to watch the fight. Aeryn squints as if trying to see something in the distance.

“Did you know there is a shadow watching you guys?” called Aeryn to Roran and Dalton.

Of course there are shadows watching. There are shadows…Evander didn’t get to complete that thought. A being of pure shadow emerged from a shadow.

This ends now,” said the shadow in a harsh voice that sent a chill down Evander’s spine. The shadow extends his hand and a rippling bolt of force shoots forth slamming into Roran sending him flying. He lands five feet from the group. Roran stops moving and Aeryn rushes to check on him.

Dalton stumbles to the shadow, “I have it my master,” and takes out an orb that seems to be made of fire. The shadow accepts the orb. “You have served your purpose,” said the shadow. Dalton bursts into flames. He doesn’t even have a chance to scream as he is turned to ash, only his sword surviving the intense flames.

Travis and Lilith run up to Dalton’s remains. Lilith takes out a pouch and, using magic, secures his ashes whilst Travis claims the sword. After getting the ashes Lilith wanders back into the woods.

“We have to get him back to camp,” said Aeryn tending as best she could to Roran's wounds.

“Here, use my tent,” said Evander. Between them they make it into a makeshift litter. Travis and Rothus carried Roran back to camp while Evander goes on ahead to make sure it is safe. When Evander gets back to camp it is in ruins. Most noticeably Joachim’s tent and the Oracle’s wagon are just gone. Many tents have met with similar fates. All around camp there are dead bodies, horribly burned, people walk about in shock. The only ones moving with a purpose are the healers.

It seems that the number of the dead out number the living. Evander waits for the others and escorts them to Roran’s tent. Aeryn is quickly snatched up and tasked with helping the injured. “I’m going to patrol the area,” said Rothus heading out.

“Hey, let’s see if we can find out what happened here,” said Travis.

Evander Smith – Déjà vu Part the Sixth

The travelers ate breakfast, broke camp and began the long walk back to Joachim and the camp. They made good time, as they got back to camp in three days instead of four. During that time Rothus experimented with the bracers and the amulets. When more then sixty feet away the amulet stopped glowing, and as one got closer the amulet glowed brighter and brighter until it was as bright as a torch. A good bag of leather could shield the light no matter how bright the amulet.

Travis had been guiding the group back to camp with Evander in front in case there was any trouble. As they're walking through the last bit of forest Evander hears the sound of metal hitting metal, and explosions. Evander holds up a hand telling the others to stop.

“What is it?” asked Rothus.

“I think there’s fighting ahead,” said Evander.

“I don’t hear anything,” said Rothus.

“Ro, Travis scout ahead to see what’s happening,” said Evander.

Rothus disappears into the forest, Travis just walks to the edge of the forest to see what’s happening.

“Guys get up here now,” said Rothus urgently.

Evander and the others quickly go to the edge of the forest to see what’s happening. They see Dalton and Roran fighting to the death. Each bears numerous wounds yet they continue to clash. After on particulary brutal exchange of blows Dalton kicks Roran and sends him flying.

Roran picks himself up off the ground. “YOU FILTHY TRAITOR!” Roran bellows charging back into the fight.

“We have to do something,” said Lilith.

“What can we do?” asked Evander watching the fight. The field is a maelstrom of steel and arcane energy.

“I don’t know, something. We have to stop them!” said Lilith becoming frantic.

“I’m sorry, but there’s no way to get close with out getting killed,” said Evander solemnly.

Evander Smith – Déjà vu Part the Fifth

“Follow me,” said Oric leading them to the cave.

“Thanks,” said Evander walking into the cave. He returned a few minutes latter with his back pack. It had a few more holes in it but was still functional.

“I guess this is good bye,” said Lilith looking at Oric.

“Aye, guess it is,” said Oric.

“Will we ever see you again?” asked Aeryn.

“Only if you come to visit. We dwarves don’t get out much since we have all we need in the tunnels,” he said.

“Bye Oric,” said the travelers.

“Bye, take care,” said Oric before heading back down into the caves.

“That was exhausting,” said Rothus.

“Lets set up camp and head out during the day,” said Evander. The travelers made camp and set up watches and proceeded to sleep. Evander is kicked awake by Rothus.

“Wha?” asked Evan sleepily.

“You missed it, I saw movement in the grass, and I thought it was a monster so I woke up Travis to see if he could see it or if I was imagining it. Then we woke up Lily and that’s when the monster attacked, but I managed to fight it off. I think it was a lion or tiger or something,” said Rothus.

“You mean kitty?” asked Lilith.

“Shhh, Evan doesn’t know that,” said Rothus.

“You attacked kitty?” asked Evander.

“Hey, that animal is vicious,” said Rothus.

“Alright, I’ll be out in a bit,” said Evander kicking Rothus out of his tent.

Evander Smith – Déjà vu Part the Fourth

“You know there is one way to figure out who has the right time,” said Evander.

“Oh?” asked Rothus.

“We could check the library and see how much of it has been fixed,” said Evander.

“Great, lets get a dwarf to take us there,” said Rothus. Aeryn, spotting the white robed dwarf, waves him down.

“Could you take us to the library one last time?” asked Aeryn. The dwarf nods and the travelers begin to follow. The dwarf turns around and points at Rothus and Travis motioning them to stay here.

“Fine, I thought those books where boring anyway,” said Rothus.

“Yeah, the cool kids will stay here,” said Travis as Aeryn, Lilith and Evander went to the library. When the doors opened the trio could see that it was still a mess, if two weeks had passed it would be almost functional. However, it was much as it had been the past few days.

“Huh, guess you guys were telling the truth,” said Evander. The dwarf went inside and promptly returned with a book giving it to Aeryn.

“You know I’m leaving right?” she asked. The dwarf nodded.

“Thank you,” said Aeryn looking at the book. It was the codex. The dwarf then lead them back to the banquet hall to meet up with Rothus and Travis.

“Good news, you aren’t missing any time,” said Evander.

“So, does this mean you're like two weeks older know?” asked Lilith. Evander just shrugged his shoulders.

“Alright lads and lasses, time to go,” came the familiar voice of Oric. “Everyone ready?” he asked. They nodded there heads. “Then we be off,” he said. The travelers followed Oric through the winding twisting tunnels until they came to an opening. Over head the stars shown brightly and the moon was hanging in the sky.

“Hey where is the entrance we entered from?” asked Evander.

Evander Smith – Déjà vu Part the Third

“Fine, I put two on Durn,” said Travis.

The king and Durn fight, both master axe fighters. Evander tried to watch but there moves were fast and flowed like water making it impossible for him to catch every axe stroke. The king and Durn continued to fight for several minutes until Durn made the smallest mistake. The king saw his chance and with a powerful downward swing aimed to split Durn's head open, however Durn twisted to the side, the blade missing him by inches, and brought up his axe to the king's throat.

The two dwarves stood still for several seconds and the crowd erupted in cheers.

“Just watch, the king will turn this around,” said Rothus completely confident.

“All right Durn, this match goes to you,” said the king, the crowd erupting in cheers.

“Pay up pal,” said Travis.

Durn lowered the axe from the king's throat and took a step back.

“Couldn’t Durn have killed him and become king?” asked Lilith.

“Doesn’t work like that lass,” said a dwarf.

“A deals a deal,” said Horthgar removing the bracers. “You have earned these,” he said tossing the bracers to Evander.

“Thank you your majesty,” said Evander bowing. Not wanting to lose the bracers, Evander put them on for safe keeping.

“Now is there anything else you need?” asked the king.

“No, it is time for us to go,” said Rothus.

“Well in that case, a feast for our guests, to see them off with ale in their stomachs and songs in their hearts!” called Horthgar.

“Aye!” replied the crowd. The feast was meat of all sorts, and mead, ale, beer, and countless other spirits. After the feast the travelers pack up and prepare to leave.

Evander Smith – Déjà vu Part the Second

“Just how long were we in that room?” asked Aeryn.

“Aye, the room you went into was created to turn hours into weeks,” said king Horthgar chuckling.

“What would you need a room that did that for?” asked Aeryn.

“To make weapons to fight enemies of the dwarves,” said the king.

“Like goblins?” inquired Aeryn.

“Dwarves don’t fight puny goblins, we fight Orcs, Ogres and Ogreas,” said the King.

“Now gimmy tha' axe,” said the king, taking the axe from Evander’s hands. “Durn. Front and center.” Durn comes within two paces of the king, drawing his axe, then both fall into a fighting stance.

“Duel in the throne room,” calls a dwarf and in moments many dwarfs begin to pour in to watch the fight.

“I got three gold on Durn!” 

“Bah, Durn can’t tell wich way to hold a mug I put five on the king!” The cheer of the crowd prevent Evander from making out anymore words. Quickly retreating, to not get caught between Durn and the king, Evander joins his friends.

After staring at each other for a few moments they burst in to motion, swinging the axe with out reserve. As they clash sparks fly and the clang of metal penetrates the cheers and jeers of the crowd. “Is this normal?” Aeryn asks loudly to get her voice heard over the crowd.

“Aye,” replies a dwarf.

“What happens if Evan’s axe breaks?” asks Lilith.

“What was the deal again?” questions a dwarf.

“We don’t get the bracers,” replies Travis.

“That,” said the dwarf.

“I put two gold on the king,” said Rothus.

Evander Smith – Déjà vu Part the First

The Dwarf led Evander down twisting turning tunnels to a room. “These tunnels make no sense,” said Evander aloud.

“Aye, it’s to confuse invaders,” said the Dwarf. “Here we are lad, you are not to leave this room 'til you 'ave completed this,” the dwarf said handing Evander a sheet of parchment. On the parchment were instruction on how to create a battle axe of dwarven design. Though it was hard to read, at least it was written in common. Evander nodded understanding and entered the room. Inside was a forge and the raw materials needed to make the axe.

The door shut behind Evander who turned and looked at it. Taking a deep breath Evander set to work. Hour by hour, day by day Evander worked pounding the metal bars into a worthy axe. Food would appear mysteriously and empty dishes would disappear. During this time no one visited Evander, not even his friends. With nothing but the forge and a small cot in the room there was nothing for Evander to really do but work.

Finally, after working for uncounted days Evander emerged from the room bearing the axe he had forged. “The king will want to see you lad, but first let’s be gettin' you cleaned up,” said a dwarf who had been standing by the door when Evander emerged. Evander was covered head to toe in soot and damp with sweat. The dwarf began walking and so Evander followed once again to the shower room. When he emerged his clothes were washed. Once he had dressed, Durn approached Evander.

“Alright lad, time to be a showin' da king wut ye got,” said Durn. Evander just nodded, too nervous to speak, and went to the king. Evander goes through the throne room, and the same procession as the first time. When Evander gets to the feet of the throne he kneels with the axe head resting on the floor and his hands upon the haft. A short while later Evander’s friends arrive.

“Wow Evan, how did you craft that in just a few hours, your dad usually takes weeks to craft,” said Lilith.

So taken aback by this statement Evander begins speaking without thinking about where he is. “What do you mean a few hours, it’s been two weeks,” said Evander.

“Wow Evan, when did you get to be such a good liar? Though, I would have said that it took minutes instead of weeks,” said Rothus sounding impressed.

“I’m not lying, you're missing two weeks of your lives,” said Evander.

Rothus' Wooden Dice

Rothus has made some dice in the game, and I have put markings on some dice of my own. I bought some blank wooden dice and used a wood-burner to mark them.

I was playing around with different pips. Standard dice have a dot for each pip. I thought maybe a pip could be represented by a line, all six forming a coherent design. One die makes a swirl and the other makes a star. I wanted them to be simple enough they could be read quickly.

I also thought that pips could be represented by intersections of lines. The two dice on the right-hand side have a fixed number of lines (6 and 4 respectively) but have a changing number of intersections between those lines. 

I also played with the idea of using arrows to indicate mathematical relationships between the sides forcing the players to do some peculiar calculations after rolling the dice, but I figured that there was nothing intuitive about it. If someone were to stumble upon such a die, it would be incoherent.

The Adventures of Rothus, page 46 [D-825]

The mountains of Iregor, outside the cave entrance:

Travis wakes me up, so that I can take the last watch for the night.

As all the others sleep, I hear something in the valley. It’s definitely coming this way. I can’t see what it is. I stand up and level my crossbow. I just can’t make it out. Maybe Travis can see it better. He always had better eyes than me. I wake him up, but he can’t figure out what it is, either. Maybe Lily can use some sort of witchsight, or something.

I wake up Lily and she says, “It’s Kitty!” Oh, that’s Lotech’s cat. It’s out on the hunt. False alarm. But it’s about time to wake up anyway, so I kick awake everyone else and Aeryn takes command of breakfast.

Aeryn tries to get Iregor’s attention hoping for a farewell chat, but the dragon does not appear to be anywhere. If I were a dragon, I’d sleep in late. Who would dare wake up a dragon before they wanted to wake up?

Well, it’s time to turn our back on these mountains and head back to the camp of the Oracle! Then, hopefully, we can be on our way to Tarenvale. I need to talk with Mother as soon as possible.

The Adventures of Rothus, page 45 [D-824]

The dwarven caves, outside the Room of Truth:

The Room of Truth seems to not want to show us anything else, so we return to the forges. Aeryn and Lily go to sleep. It is so hard to keep track of days down here. I think the dwarves are always up. In shifts, maybe. Someone is always awake down here. I’m not tired, so I take this time to work on my maps.

Did we make a deal with the king? I know Evan is forging a sword and all, but I don’t remember any agreement....

As I’m wandering around, Durn calls out my name. I turn around and see that the rest of the Tarenvale Travelers (plus Lotech) are assembled. “The King is ready to see you again,” he says. Uh, oh. I look at Travis to see if his face has a look of guilt from a second catastrophe. Instead, he looks as confused as the rest. It’s just way too soon to see the king again. Did he forget to tell us something important?

We walk past the columns that reach up into the stone above. I must say, it is just as impressive the second time! I wonder if the dwarves made it so that everyone feels small like they do.

When the doors open, we are ready for the blinding light, so it does not catch our eyes like before. We look up at the throne and see Evan standing there with a very expensive axe. Oh, Evan, the dwarves aren’t stupid enough to think that you forged that axe in the last few hours. They will know that you stole it and tried to pass it off as your own. Then they’ll surely punish all of us. Destroying the library was an honest accident, but open theft wont fly.

We all walk up to Evan and the king, kneeling as before. “Where have you all been for the last two weeks?” Evan asks.

“What do you mean? It’s only been, like, two hours!” we protest. Did the Room of Truth distort time? That would be unfortunate if we leave the mountains and find out that three years have passe! Or some such. Or maybe Evan is on drugs? Or we are? Those mushrooms from the previous meal...? I doubt it.

“It has been two hours. And it has been two weeks,” King Horthgar explains. Or, I guess that’s not really an explanation. “There is another room, like the Room of Truth, that does not show visions, but speeds up time. I heard the urgency in your voices the last time we spoke and thought Evander here would do well to hurry.” Oh, well, at least we’re not crazy. That’s a comfort. A Room of Time, a Room of Truth... so many possibilities! I want to be king. Wait, that means Evan produced that impressive blade! Wow! Mr. Smith would be stunned.

Then, King Horthgar summons the axe. Evan formally presents it to him. Lifting the weapon, the king calls out Durn’s name. Durn walks up the steps and draws his own axe. They both heft their weapons and swing at each other! Are they totally insane?! Is Durn going to kill the king? He said he likes duels to the death, after all! No, the king is definitely going to kill Durn! This is not going to end well!

I look around the room trying to figure out how to stop this. But every dwarf in the chamber is smiling at the battle. They are totally relaxed, not a one of them readying a weapon. Wait, that guy’s even taking bets! I bet 1 gold piece that the king’ll win. He’s got the better blade and, well, he’s the king.

Danged, Durn is actually doing pretty well. He’s faster than the king, if only slightly. Also, even though his blade doesn’t looks at good at the king’s, it is plenty sturdy to parry blows. Durn quickly gets a clear shot on the kings neck, but pulls it at the last heart-beat. Everyone holds their breath for a moment, then the king surrenders with a chuckle.

King Horthgar lowers his axe and turns to Evan, “A fine blade you’ve made! This will make a fair trade for my bracers.” He then carefully removes the bracers and hands them to a very relieved Evan. “Now, Durn will see to it that you are safely led out of the dwarven holds. Fare thee well.”

We exit the throne room with a rush of adrenaline. Mission accomplished! And we’ll get out of here before Travis breaks something else! Durn guides us back to the forges and offers us one last feast before we leave. We all gladly take the hospitality.

As we wait for the meal, I ask Evan to assist me with some experiments. He is to stand still with the bracers and I walk away from him, then towards him. It seems that when the amulet is about sixty feet from the bracers, the amulet stops glowing (the bracers don’t glow at all). I ask Lily if she has a small pouch that I can use to cover the glow of my amulet. The last thing I want is to be hiding in a shadow and then have my amulet start glowing! She says she doesn’t have a pouch, but will start making one.

After the feast, we still aren’t sure if its been two hours or two weeks in the real universe. I mean Horthgar can say what he likes, but we want evidence. Evan, Lily and Aeryn ask the white robed dwarf if they can visit the library. Travis and I are not allowed. Aeryn returns with a huge tome and says the library is still a mess. That means it’s been only a few hours.

We all gather at the forges with Durn. We’ve collected all our things and follow him down the twisting tunnels. It takes us several hours, but we eventually arrive at the surface. We look up into the sky and see that it is dark. Just like the tunnels. Great. Well, at least the air is easier to breathe.

“So, is this the entryway that we came into the caves?” someone asks.

“Well, I doubt it. I think you came in over there, about a hundred yards,” Durn answers.

And now, our time with Durn is at an end. The dwarves don’t leave the mountains, so unless we return here, this could be the last time we ever see him. With that heavy thought, we bid farewell to our dwarven friend and he returns deep into the mountain.

Looking at the starscape, Travis figures out which way back to the oracle’s camp, but we are too exhausted. We unroll our bedrolls and settle in for some sleep.

The Adventures of Rothus, page 44 [D-824]

The dwarven caves, the throne room:

Evan is escorted out of the throne room to begin working on a sword to impress King Horthgar. The rest of us go out the other door and are led by the King himself to the mysterious room where I spoke with Mother. “Well, I’ll follow to the room, but I’m not going to go into it. I’ll just knit in the hall or something,” Lily says. I think she’s just a coward.

On the way, Aeryn asks about Thurgor Stronghammer. It is a name that she came across during her research in the dwarven library. King Horthgar explains that there was once a King Stronghammer and that he must be the dwarf pictured in the tome Aeryn was searching. Horthgar is the 12th king to have held the throne. The conversation brings us up to a familiar part of the tunnels. I know this door. The King stops right in front.

“Here is the room you are looking for. I’ve dubbed the room of Truth,” he says. “I hope that you see what you need to see.” I don’t see any peculiar people around that look like the guy who pushed me in here the first time. That’s a good omen, I think.

I open the door and it is eerily dark. Lotech jumps in, crashing to the ground. Lily steps in to help. “Wait, I didn’t want to come in here,” she says. Travis, Lotech, Aeryn and I all rush in, blocking Lily’s escape. Inside the room it is dark, really dark. I remember this part. But this time, I am able to see the other people in the room for some reason. They are crystal clear, even though the walls are a black field of nothing.

“My farm is going to appear soon. Just wait a moment,” I say encouragingly. Lily tries to summon up some light, but it doesn’t change what we are able to see. We deduce that it has something to do with the amulets, so experiments are in order! I take off my amulet and suddenly cannot see anyone. But they can still see me. Hmmm.... I’ll have to think on this for a while.

Hoping to trigger a vision of the farm, I walk around the walls like I did the first time. Nothing happens. In fact, I can’t find the door through which we entered. Yet, the farm doesn’t appear! We are trapped. Well, we can be just a little patient, the farm has to appear soon enough.

After a time, the door opens up! The dwarves are outside looking at us questioningly. Why didn’t it work for us? Were there too many of us all at once? Or is someone in the group spoiling it? Fickle magic. See, that’s why I rely on my own two hands. And of course, the effort of others. We all step out of the room, except for Aeryn who stays inside. We close the door and wait. After a while, she steps back out, confused and in awe.

“Did you see the farm?” I ask.

“No,” Aeryn says, “I talked to Desna*....”

“We are near one of the node stones of power,” she continues. “Whether we believe it or not, we have already found one. It is likely not the stone of darkness, but as to which stone it is, I don’t know. Also, there is definitely a seventh stone.”

We all stand in awe. She got to talk with a goddess! I mean, I love Mother and all, but Desna is a real, live deity! In hopes of harvesting more truths, Lily pushes Travis into the room and closes the door. We wait and wait, but nothing happens. Travis walks out and Lily takes the opportunity to push Lotech into the room. Nothing happens.

“What do you know about the stones of power, my lord?” I ask the king.

“I don’t have any stones of power,” he concludes. With that, he calmly guides his procession away down the halls, leaving a dwarf who might guide us back to the forges once we are done.

Desna did not specify that the stone is here in the mountains nor that we have it in our possession, only that we have found it already. What if the mountain is the stone? Or it is in the bracers? Or the dragon has it? Oh, too many possibilities....

*Desna is the goddess of dreams, stars, travelers and luck.

The Adventures of Rothus, page 43 [D-824]

The dwarven caves, outside the Throne room:

Our first sight of the throne, and the light is so bright, I close my eyes.

“God is that you?” asks Lily.

“Yes!” answers a dwarven voice.

I slowly open my eyes to let them adjust to the light. Once they are fully open, I see that, like the previous hall, this one has columns as well. The ones nearest us are made of copper, followed by silver and the ones on the far end are gold. They make two parallel rows that flank a path up to the throne itself. Standing between the columns and the path are dwarves in polished silver armor. In pairs, their halberds cross the path to block our way.

As we approach each pair, they pull their halberds up out of our way so that we may pass. One by one, they do this. Eventually, the last pair has pulled back their weapons and we reach King Horthgar. Our amulets start to glow! (Aeryn’s bradar (bracer radar) goes off.) The King’s bracers begin to glow with the same warm light as the amulets! So this is why Joachim was so confident that we would recognize them when we saw them. He must have known they were attuned to the bracers.

Snapping me back to the issue at hand, Durn kneels with his weapon pressing against the ground and his hands resting on the hilt. Evan and I draw weapons and immitate Durn. Aeryn and Lotech kneel without weapons. Travis inclines his head, but remains standing. Lily doesn’t kneel or anything! She’s awfully brave. Or stupid.

Lotech asks to the king, “Can we borrow those bracers for a moment?”

“I understand that you have come here looking for some bracers,” the king says. “But I have one question for each of you.” The Great Horthgar stares at each of us for a moment. “Who was it?”

Travis steps forward. “So it was you,” asserts the King.

“Yes, it was,” Travis says, “I was attempting to enjoy the finer ales in life.”

“it was not our intention to--” Lotech interjects.

“Silence,” commands the King.

“I take full responsibility,” says Travis.

“we’ll speak later,” the King concludes. “Now, describe to me the bracers you seek.” Aeryn then goes on to describe the exact bracers the king is wearing.

Lily explains, “Our amulets are linked to your bracers causing them to glow. We need the bracers as they will help us find the six stones of power. We need to collect all the stones to defeat a great evil that is coming.” That’s not exactly what we are doing just now, but it sounds better than saying, “We want the royal bracers. Hand ‘em over, big guy!”

“What benefit do my people serve by handing you my bracers?” the King asks, bringing out the major issue.

“It is not about your people, but about the world in which we share. If the world is lost, you suffer right along with us,” lily says. “What could we do to earn your trust?”

“What do you have to offer me?” the King says looking at Evan.

“He is a smith, trained by the greatest smith in the land,” Lily answers.

“A smith, eh? You will make me a sword of the best quality,” King Horthgar commands.

“But, lord, don’t you have great dwarven smiths that can do that for you?” Evan points out.

“Yes, but you are human. I want to know if the humans have improved their work in the last century,” replies the King.

“Rothus could be a valuable asset to you. He can make himself scarce, yet his eyes and ears are keen. He can explore hidden areas,” Lily suggests.

“Yes, I know of his little adventure.” King Horthgar says.

“Maybe you could explain it to me then?” I say, with a hopeful voice.

“That room is older than even I know. What I can say for certain is that it always shows the truth. It was how I learned I would be king,” the King explains.

“Has anyone ever gone in twice? Because I came out with many more questions than answers,” I ask.

“Interesting. Yes, people have gone in a second time,” he says.

“Can you lead us back to the room?” I ask.

“Yes. if you follow me,” he says.

“I will stay outside the room,” lily says.

The Adventures of Rothus, page 42 [D-824]

The dwarven forges, two days later:

Durn went off to consult with the King, but left us to our own devices. I take this time to finish up my dice! I think their pretty neat. I also take some time to try and map out the tunnels, but they are really confusing, so not much is recorded.

Eventually, Durn returns. He takes us to a tavern and buys us all a meal. Some of the best cave moss I’ve ever had! We ask him about the barcers again. Unfortunately, we can’t give him any details about what they look like so the conversation ends like all the other ones related to the bracers.

“Since we’ll recognize it when we see it, maybe we can line up all the dwarves in the city and just walk past all of them looking at their bracers,” suggested Lily.

“There a' over 10,000 dwarves in tha caves,” Durn replies in a dead-pan. I guess that’s not going to happen. He continues, “I invit'd ya here to tell ya that King Horthgar, May His Hammer Swin' True, wishes to meet with ya. We need be there in two hours.” Not two weeks!! Yay! Orik said it would be forever until we had an opportunity to see His Majesty, but we are the exception.

It will take a half hour to get to the King’s Throne, so our conversation wanders over to mysterious rooms. Lily was still passed out when I told Evan about the weird room that I had entered a few days ago, so I explained it to her all over again, this time with the whole group gathered to listen. No one’s missed it this time.

Lily has the answer, “You know, you probably saw her in the aether. Or it may have been astral. Either way, powerful magic.” Well, she might be right, but it’s not a helpful answer....

“Hey Durn. Is the King happy to see us, or mad to see us?” I ask, going back to the original topic. Is only response is to laugh. He then stands up and walks away from the table. That’s a bad omen. The king may be mad that we destroyed the library.

Lotech takes it to the extreme, saying, “Durn may have poisoned us.”

“The antidote might be mushrooms,” Aeryn says. What? How? When? Durn didn’t poison us, but if he doesn’t come back, I have no idea how we are going to find the throne room. We start asking around, to see if someone is willing to guide us to the King. Aeryn says “little dwarves room” and some point, angering one particular dwarf. Luckily, Durn returns, not telling us where he went. He suggests we clean up before meeting the King. The dwarves have harnessed a natural spring that flows under the earth and drains back into it. Durn leads us there so that we can wash up. Odd, I can’t recall the last time I bathed. Now that we are free of odor, let us head to meet the King! We follow Durn all the winding way there.

Subtly, the walls grow wider until we find ourselves at the base of a stone forest. Column after column reaches straight up into the ceiling, at least a hundred feet up. I can’t even begin to imagine how long it took to carve all of this out. There are several carvings of heroes in the columns, each one sturdy and proud. These must be legends. The stone heroes guard a path that leads up to a pair of doors, covered in gold and precious gems. The doorway is either designed to impress visitors, or the King has elephants.

The doors open.

Evander Smith – Meeting with a Dwarven King Part the Last

“Is that true?” asked the king.

“Yes your majesty,” said Evander.

“Then I task you with this: make me a weapon that I could use in battle, and I shall give you the bracers,” said the king.

“I do not understand, you have many fine smiths and weapons already,” said Evander.

“Yes, but I wish to learn if the humans have improved the art of the forge since we last saw them,” said the king.

“Then I accept your challenge,” said Evander.

The king snapped his fingers and a dwarf approached the king. After a quick whispered conversation the king speaks. “My servant will show you to the forge and explain what you are to do,” said the king. Evander rose and followed the dwarf to see what challenge the king had set before him.

Evander Smith – Meeting with a Dwarven King Part the Seventh

Travis steps forward. “It was I, your majesty. I take full responsibility, for I was just trying to enjoy the finer wines--”

“Ale,” Evander interrupts.

“...Ale of life,” said Travis.

“Hmph, we shall speak later, now what do you need the bracers for?” asks the king.

“We are on a quest for Joachim who was told by an oracle to retrieve the bracers, to help the humans find the six elemental stones to repel a great evil,” said Lilith.

“How do the dwarves benefit from this?” asks the king.

Okay Evander, if you don’t speak you can’t mess up Lily’s lie, Evander thought to himself.

“We all live in the same world, and though we are different people, we all have to live here. The Evil will not stop with the humans, it will also consume the dwarves,” said Lilith.

“That being the case, what do each of you think is a fair trade for the bracers?” asked the king.

“three gold,” said Lotech immediately.

I don’t think she understands money or trade, thought Evander.

“I will trade my services for them,” said Aeryn.

“How about my elven curve blade?” asked Travis.

, was Evander’s thought on that one.

“And what of you?” asks the king looking directly at Evander. Since he is not sure yet what would be a fair trade, Evander continues to think instead of speaking aloud.

“Evander could make you some new bracers, he is the son of a smith,” said Lilith.

Evander Smith – Meeting with a Dwarven King Part the Sixth

They arrive at a public bath and clean themselves up. While they're cleaning themselves their clothes are taken to be mended and washed. After washing, it’s almost time for the meeting so Durn leads them to the throne room. The hallway leading up to the throne is lined with one hundred foot high statues of dwarven heroes. At the end is a grand double door made of stone and embossed with gold and rare gems.

The doors begin to swing open and for a moment everyone is blinded by the light coming from the throne room. There are 5 pillars each one hundred feet high, alternating gold, cooper and silver on each side. In between each pillar is a dwarf in ornate silver armor crossing pole arms to block our path. Durn walks forward and they follow. As we approach, each guard uncrosses their pole arms. While we are walking Lotech turns around and runs back to the entrance and then back to the group to see what the guards will do. Nothing.

As they approach king Horthgar, their amulets begin to glow and each one recognizes the bracers the king is wearing. At the bottom of the stairs leading to the throne, Durn takes out his battle axe and rests the head on the ground while he kneels. Evander imitates Durn with his short sword, as do Rothus and Aeryn with daggers. Lotech eventually follows suit. Travis bows his head while Lilith looks around confused and just stands there. Durn nudges Lilith. “Kneel or bow girl, do something to show yer respect,” he growls.

“Why?” asks Lilith.

“I will explain later girl, just do it now,” said Durn.

“King Horthgar, can we borrow your bracers for a little bit?” asked Lotech.

Did she just ask that? Evander wonders to himself going motionless.

“Did you just ask that?” Durn says aloud in disbelief.

“I said… racing stones,” Lotech says unconvincingly.

Finally the king speaks in a booming voice that captures everyone’s attention. “I understand that you have come here looking for bracers,” said Horthgar.

“Aye,” said Aeryn.

“Don’t insult me,” the king quickly snaps. “I have a question for each of you. Who was it?” said the king.

Evander Smith – Meeting with a Dwarven King Part the Fifth

“So, is there a room that one can walk into and be transported to a different place only to leave the room and still be in the caves?” asked Rothus.

“Boy, are ye sure tha' you haven’ been ‘O drikin' wit' your friend?” asked Durn.

“You know, you could have stumbled into the aether and seen visions of Tarenvale,” said Lilith using her arcane knowledge.

“So is the king happy to finally meet with us?” asked Rothus.

The only response was Durn’s laughter.

“Say, since we destroyed your library, why are you treating us to food. Did you poison it?” asks Lotech.

“And that once the king has gotten a confession out of us he will give us the antidote,” said Lilith.

“I think the antidote would be a mushroom since they grow well underground,” said Aeryn. Lotech starts eating mushrooms.

“But some mushrooms are poisonous themselves,” said Aeryn. Lotech stops the fork in front of her mouth with a mushroom on it. During this, Durn gets up and leaves. A random dwarf approaches our table.

“Oui lad, ye be the one who destroyed our library?” asks the dwarf looking at Travis.

“Yes, but he was drunk, like any dwarf would be,” said Evander.

“Ah well I suppose dwarven ale affects non-dwarves more strongly,” he said before walking away.

Durn returns a few minutes later. “Where did you go?” asks Rothus.

“Not your business,” said Durn.

“Anything we should know before going to meet the king?” asked Rothus.

“Aye, take a bath. Follow,” said Durn as the group followed him.

Evander Smith – Meeting with a Dwarven King Part the Fourth

“Yes, there were a group of dwarves who didn’t like the clan leader of many generations ago. They started a war hoping to take power but were defeated and exiled. No one is sure where they are, however, it is possible they're living in the caves down here,” said Oric leading them to the forges before quietly departing without a word.

The adventurers waited around for a while before asking a dwarf how long it would take to get a meeting with the king. They were told days. So our adventurers settled in to wait. Everyone, with the exception of Rothus and Evander, helped to repair the library. Rothus didn’t help because it was work, and Evander didn’t want to get in the way. It was noon of the second day when Durn returned to the forges to gather up the adventurers. He brought them to one of the taverns for a meal which were now charging to pay for repairs to the library.

Durn remained silent, waiting to see if one of the pink skins would speak. Lotech stands up and begins to speak. “Could I have everyone’s attention. This person here has something very important she would like to ask you,” she said.

Aeryn stands up. “If any of you have a bracer on could you please stand up, we are looking for a bracer but we don’t know what it looks like,” said Aeryn. ALL the dwarves in the tavern stand up.

“Girl, we all have bracers on,” said Durn.

“Okay, but how many more dwarves can there be with bracers?” asked Aeryn. Evander tactically face palms.

“Girl, all dwarves that live here have bracers, all of ‘em,” said Durn.

“Okay, so could we line them up and look at the bracers?” asked Aeryn sitting down trying to think up ideas.

“No,” said Durn shortly. “King Horthgar will meet with ya in two hours,” he continued.

“How far away is it?” asked Rothus.

“It’s about a half hour walk from here,” said Durn.

“Not my fault, not my fault, not my fault…” Travis keeps muttering.

Evander Smith – Meeting with a Dwarven King Part the Third

With that, the Tarenvale Travelers followed Durn to the armory. A massive double door wide enough to fit twelve dwarves abreast and half as high stood in front of the adventurers. The door was embossed with what was supposedly a famous battle in the clans history.

“What kind of wood is that?” asked Travis.

“You sure you're alright lad?” asked Durn.

“Don’t bother with him, he’s fine. Instead, open the doors,” said Rothus.

“No,” said Durn simply.

“But, you're allowed in right?” asked Rothus.

“Aye,” said Durn.

“And we can enter as your guests right?”

“No, outsiders be needin' tha king's permission to enter,” said Durn.

“Well then, lets meet the king,” said Rothus as if it wasn’t a big deal.

“If you want to meet the king tha' badly I’ll see wha' I can do,” said Durn. Reaching in to his pocket, he retrieves a stone that looks similar to the communication stones. After pressing a few runes he puts it back into his pocket. “Listen up. Here's the plan. I’m going to see if the king is willen' to meet with the lot of ya. In da meen time, wait for me in da forges. Another dwarf will be here shortly to lead you back,” said Durn before walking off to talk with the king.

A few moments later, a new dwarf shows up. “Can you lead us back to the forges?” asked Rothus.

“Yes, now follow,” said the new dwarf.

“What’s your name?” asked Rothus.

“I’m Oric,” said the Dwarf beginning to walk down the twisting turning tunnels.

“Do you know of any dwarves that would play a trick on one of us if they were by themselves?” asked Rothus.

Evander Smith – Meeting with a Dwarven King Part the Second

“Alright, which ‘oun oh you laddies whent and ‘nock down all tha books?” asked Durn stearnly.

“Wasn’t me I, swear. I have never been in the library, honest,” said Travis trying to deny what he did.

“Do you kno' how much trouble you be in?” asked Durn. “Mor trouble than a Dwarf without ale,” he says before Travis has a chance to speak.

“Hey, did it in one of the most time honored traditions; he’s drunk,” said Evander trying to defend Travis.

“Ah, tha be makin' sense,” said Durn.

“Durn, you wouldn’t be able to help us find a bracer would you?” asked Evander.

“Tha depends on wha kind ‘O bracer you be searchin' for,” said Durn.

“Well, it’s a bracer. It may or may not have spikes. The spikes might be the same length or some might be shorter th…” said Evander trying to describe the mysterious bracer.

“Who ye be calling short!” demanded Durn.

“No one I was just…” said Evander.

“Those be fightin' words, pink skin,” said Durn.

“Say, if where going to duel we need to go to the armory to get weapons don’t we?” asked Rothus hopefully.

“Aye, that’s right,” said Durn.

“So, what kind of duels do you like?” asked Rothus.

“To the death, tha way both competitors fight the hardest,” said Durn.

“Huh, I like first blood since that way both competitors can go train and get better,” said Rothus.

Evander Smith – Meeting with a Dwarven King Part the First

The Library is huge, containing thousands of tomes. The white robed dwarf leads Evander, Rothus, Travis, Lilith and Lotech to where Aeryn is poring over an ancient tome. Without anything to occupy his attention Travis stumbles, then falls over. “I’m oookay,” he says with a drunken slur, picking himself up. “Hate it when that happens.”

Rothus approaches the white robed dwarf and asks, “What do you know of magical bracers?” The white robed dwarf rushes off in search of something.

“What’s wrong with you?” Evander asks Travis.

“The room is spinning and it won’t stop,” complains Travis. The white robed dwarf quickly returns with a thick tome. Rothus opens it and begins looking through the pages. Each page contains dwarven text, but also a picture of a bracer. Rothus continues to look through it for about a minute before giving up. He hasn’t even gotten through a fifth of the book. “It's impossible. This book is just to big,” said Rothus.

Evander wanders over and takes a look at the book, skipping to the end and working his way back. It doesn’t work, and the adventurers still haven’t made any progress. Evander begins following Rothus around trying to keep him out of trouble. Whilst Evander and Rothus are exploring the library, they both hear a loud boom, and then another. The booms keep getting closer. Rothus notices that the bookshelves are falling and jumps out of the way. Evander, not having Rothus’ reflexes, gets trapped under a bookshelf.

After lying dazed for a few moments Evander tries to lift the bookcase. He manages enough to squeeze out before he is promptly thrown out of the library by the white robed dwarf. Outside, Evander meets up with Rothus and Travis. Lilith and Aeryn are the next ones thrown out followed finally by Lotech. Travis looks around nervously before running off to a corner to hurl.

“What happened in there?” asks Evander.

“I didn’t do it!” Travis denies a bit too quickly.

“Didn’t do what?” asks Evander.

“Stumble into a bookshelf and knock them all down,” Travis says.

“Riiight,” says Evander not believing the lie.

Durn approaches the group while they were talking about the library fiasco.

The Adventures of Rothus, page 41 [D-822]

Dwarven caves, Mountains of Iregor:

We all go as a group to check on Aeryn’s progress. Durn is eager to lead us there, which means we don't get lost in the confusing tunnels. We get to the library and find Aeryn is pouring over a huge book. It is unintelligible and lacks pictures. Travis finally lowers his hands from his aching head and stumbles to the ground. See, this is why I don't enter drinking competitions with dwarves! Even if you win, you still lose.

I ask the white-robed librarian for information on bracers. He wanders away and comes back with a large tome full of pictures of bracers. There must be at least a thousand pages, each with a detailed sketching of a bracer. Wow. I suppose if it exists, it will be in this book somewhere! Evan says, "We'll recognize it when we see it," which means if it is one of the bracers in the book, we will know immediately when we flip to it's page. Though, there are an awful lot of pages...

I quickly convince Evan to take over the task of searching the book. Then I begin my own search of the library. Just as I find an interesting alcove, Travis knocks over a bookshelf! Yes, an entire shelf! Of course, that shelf falls onto another one which falls onto a third and next thing I know, half the library is lying on the floor!

The librarian immediately tosses Travis and I out of the library. As we stand there, looking at each other, Evan and Aeryn are tossed out to join us. Lily and Durn follow soon after. Finally, Lotech is sent out. The great doors to the library are then locked behind us. Of course, I'm sure I could unlock them easy enough.

Hmmm.... Where might we find a set of bracers in these tunnels? "Hey, Durn. Is there an armory somewhere down here?" I ask.

"O’ course dere is. Why der ya ask?" he answers.

"I think we should take a look at it. See what's in there," I reply.

"Wont all the armor be too short?" Evan asks.

"Ar’ ya callin’ me short?" accused Durn.

"Hey, if we go to the armory, we could pick out weapons for a duel!" I say, hoping to give Durn a reason to show us the place.

“Tha’s not a bad idea!” he agrees. With that, we go marching off the armory, somewhere in the labyrinth of tunnels. For Evan’s sake I tell Durn how awesome duels to first blood are in comparison to duels to the death. He isn’t totally convinced.

Durn leads us to a huge stone door. In all its grandeur, he doesn’t unlock the portal. He says we need permission from the king. “I’ve never met a king. We would like to meet the king,” I say.

“Well, maybe I ca’ arrange a meetin’ fer ya,” Durn answers. What a great guy! He pulls out a stone with a rune on it and pokes at it for a while. Looks an awful lot like our stones of communication, except that Durn’s is not voice activated, but touch activated. [Durn has the new iStone with a touch pad.]

Soon after, a different dwarf walks up and offers to lead us back to the forges. We follow him hoping that Durn will figure out the meeting with the king in the mean time.

When we get to the forges, there is nothing for us to do. I find the nearest smith and say hello. My interruption caused him to falter a second and he stuck his hammer wrong. Then he takes a breath, looks at me and says, “What can I do fer ya?”

“How long does it usually take to receive an audience with the king?” I inquire.

The dwarf laughs and says, “An audience wit’ you? Ha ha ha.” That’s a bad sign. “Hey, ya owe me a drink, fer messin’ up my work here.”

I find the bartender and give him a gold piece to pay for the one drink. He looks at it. He bites it. He looks at it again. “Free drinks fer evrebody!” he yells. Crap. I didn’t get any change back....

After everyone gets a drink, I go and look for the dwarf who guided us back to the forges. His name is Oric. I ask him about the room that I got trapped in earlier. “Can you help me find a room? It’s 100 feet by 100 feet. I found it somewhere between the library and the forges.”

“Ahhh. Thar’s a lot o’ rooms like that,” Orik says.

“well, some jerk pushed me into this one. Are there any rogue dwarves around here?” I ask.

Oric gives me a worried look. “We don’t speak o’ dem.” Ahhh... bad sign.

“Where did they come from?” I ask, ignoring the fact he just said they don’t speak about them.

“They were banished from the clan after thar leader star’ed a war,” he answers. “No one knows where thar live now.”