Last Updated: August 23, 2014
SCURO vs Ro-Lund-Do
EVIL vs GOOD
Whose soul will triumph?
Rules for Necromancer Familiars
---THE FALL OF THE NETHERESE EMPIRE---
THREE THOUSAND YEARS AGO
YEAR OF SUNDERED WEBS
High in the sky, above the roiling, blackened clouds, the floating city of Rathandar shook and trembled. Entire buildings collapsed into smoke, fire and rubble. Mighty quakes rocked the inverted mountain upon which the city was built. The floating city began its inevitable plunge to the ground. All was terror, as the citizens cried out in horror. There was no means to escape the catastrophe. Magic had ceased to be. Magic no longer held up the huge mountain.
Only the great palace of the Imax Scuro Forzar remained anchored in place. Magic was still to be found here, if only for short time. Magic kept out the noise of a city's demise, the agonized shrieks of the dying.
Inside the palace was an audience chamber. In the audience chamber was a stone raised dais. On a gray stone raised dais sat a grey stone throne. On the throne sat Imax Scuro; the Death Lord Cleric of the Netherese Empire. A Ruling Senator and High Chancellor of the College of Necromancy.
Dressed in the black and grey robes of office, he presented a striking figure. Long silver hair flowed in waves to his shoulders. A pin held his cloak to his robe. The pin depicted the draconic balanced symbols of positive and negative energy. His face was extremely handsome but masculine, all the features noble, handsome and free of blemish. The skin was silver hued, the body lean and muscular, and the eyes silver in color.
Those eyes were now fixed on the delegation gathered in front of the dais. Large shadows constantly flowed around the throne and up and down along the steps and walls. They seemed to be shadows of giant sized feline creatures with enormous fangs and claws. On a chair beside the throne sat a most exquisitely beautiful and petite star elf maiden. Draped in translucent raiment, she sat silently and motionless. Her name was Arianna Moonbright.
Scuro turned to the leader of the delegation. With a voice mixed between softness and forcefulness, he asked, "Where is the item, Racu?"
A vampire mage stepped forward. He held out a small lead box. box.
"Lord. It is inside. It was difficult to obtain. Lord, do you realize what is happening?"
"Do not be an idiot Racu!"
His voice then rose in anger. "That pompous ass, Karsus. That fool. That stupid, stupid arrogant fool! I told him! I warned him not to do it. Thinking he can become a god! Oh yes, Racu. I know what is happening. He cast that damned spell. Now the Weave is torn. Magic is failing. Our archenemies the Phaerium are attacking. Thalanthar (NOTE_ better known in modern times as the city of Shade) has fled into the Shadow Plane. The slave races are in revolt. The lich lords have gone into hiding. The floating cities are falling. The commoners and the lower Netherese are doomed. Our empire is doomed. Shall I continue?"
"Good then. The item please."
Racu hesitated. "Lord, the matter of the payment…"
Scuro rose in anger. Immediately the shadows flowed to surround Racu and the delegation. Skeleton warriors and mummy guardians moved in to surround the vampires. The magical aura surrounding Scuro intensified as a whip under tension, waiting for release. The vampire vassals huddled together whimpering. Fear gripped even the vampire mage.
"You question MY word, Racu?" whispered Scuro, voice more cutting than a razor..
"No Lord. Forgive my impudence, I beg you." Racu fell to his knees, head bowed, arms uplifted to the Death Cleric, holding up the lead box.
Scuro walked down a few steps and took the box. The magical tension loosened and ebbed away. He opened the box and removed a small vial. A few drops of a clear, colorless liquid were visible. He nodded pleased. It was the last component he needed for his unique spell. "Excellent Racu. The tears of a tortured angel. Now the matter of the payment."
He gestured to the elf maiden. She moved to stand by him. He gently ran his fingers across her jaw line and stroked her cheek. He addressed her.
"You will go with Racu. You belong to him now."
In a plaintive voice, she spoke, "Master, I have displeased you?"
Scuro let out a sigh. She was a princess in her own right. Several years ago, Scuro's undead armies had conquered her father's kingdom, for the greater glory of Netheril, of course. She was taken as part of his personal booty. Her beauty and delicateness had charmed him. In time, he had broken her will and she had become his most recent favorite. He was still fond of her, hence the sigh.
"No child. You are the price I pay now to save Netheril. But fear not. You will soon again belong to me. He turned to Racu. "Take her!" The vampire's eyes glowed. Exposing sharp fangs; he reached up and grabbed her. He led her away.
"Master, Please master, let me stay with you" was all she managed as the vampires surrounded her and all disappeared in a cloud of smoke.
Scuro incanted a teleport spell. He appeared in his private laboratory. He sensed the magic of the Weaves failing. His wards and protective spells were weakening. He would have to work quickly. The ingredients were ready.
On a small bench a golden chalice held a black liquid. The liquid contained many things, of which demon heart and devil brain were only a small part. Into this fluid, he placed the angel tears, a pink diamond, a rose ruby, a sea emerald and a large white pearl. The gems alone were a king's ransom.
Then he began to chant the spell words. As he chanted, he invoked perfectly balanced positive and negative energies into the chalice. The spell would consume the chalice and its contents. It would send his soul back into the past; to occupy his younger self's body with his present memories intact. The plan was then to use his memories of the future to implement actions to change the future, the timeline so to speak. The plan was to destroy the Imperial arch mage Karsus before he even became a mage, thereby avoiding these present events. Then should he use his knowledge and powers to control the Senate, to lead the Empire, well that would be a side benefit, would it not?
As he incanted, the fluid swirled. Perfect Order mixed with Imperfect Chaos. Holy mixed with Profane. He took a razor edged blessed cold iron and cursed silvered knife and cut across his palm. Blood welded forth. Now followed the delicate part. Two drops of his blood, exactly two full drops of exactly the same size had to drip from the blade into the chalice. One drop for the past and one drop for the present. Then at that moment, the uncontrollable happened.
Whether it occurred at the behest of a Deity, a Demon Lord or a Devil Duke or some combination was irrelevant. To Scuro they were all one and the same: entities to be used for his own goals. Yet his goal now would have changed the course of Toril if not the multiverse. And so, as Scuro spoke the last spell word, the mountain shook. A third drop; that of the future fell into the chalice. Oblivion followed.
---DUPARI - THE GOLDEN WATER---
THIRTY-FIVE YEARS AGO
YEAR OF THE SOUL
Pa-Squa-Le, was the arch priest of Aman-Ra, head cleric of the Mulhorandi pantheon worship in the state of Dupari. He sat motionless in his candle lit private chamber. The night was warm. Perspiration shone on his bald head and naked shoulders. He waited in silence in the dark room. Statues of the various deities lined the walls. The flickering flames sent the statue's shadows to dancing along the walls.
Four armed Anhur approached and then receded from hawk headed Horus. Isis held hands with her husband, black jackal headed Orisis, Judge of the Dead. Ibis headed Toth gazed at cow headed Hathor, while crocodile headed Shebek opened his jaws. All the gods were represented. The only exception was the evil Set, whose open worship was forbidden. By itself, on the wall above a small altar hung the Sun Ankh of Aman-Ra himself.
Pa-Squa-Le waited for the return of the two priests of Orisis. More exactly he awaited the news they would bring. His wife was giving birth. Twin boys. His first sons. But the birth was difficult. The gods did not answer the prayers of healing. Orisis was calling the soul of his wife to be judged. And so the high priest waited.
There was a quiet knock on the door. "Enter" he commanded. The door opened to admit the two priests who had attended the birthing. They bowed to the Sun Ankh and to the statue of Orisis. Then they bowed to Pa-Squa-Le.
"Well, what news? requested the head priest.
The elder priest of the Dead replied. "Sun priest, Orisis keeps the souls of your wife and one of the babes. The other he returns."
Pa-Squa-Le nodded. It was as he expected. "Come. Take me to my son." The three left for the birthing room. Nearing it, they could hear a newborn's healthy wail. Entering, the sun priest went first to the birth bed. His young wife lay peacefully. Nurses were cleaning and swaddling a newborn baby boy. Bending down he kissed her forehead. `Thank you for my son`, he whispered.
In the crook of her arm lay the body of a boy baby. It too was lifeless.
He turned to the nurse and held out his arms. ``My son`, he ordered. She passed over the baby. It was a typical Dupari baby. Dark brown skin, black hair and deep brown eyes. Pa-Squa-Le`s eyes shone with pride.
``He shall be called Mi-Kell-Lo. We must make preparations for his initiation into this world. Now fetch the wet nurse. ``
Turning to the priests of Orisis, he indicated the bodies on the bed and instructed ``Prepare them for embalming and burial. ``
Then as he was taking his leave, with no warning, the baby on the bed gave a scream and began to cry.
All turned in surprise. They stared dumfounded. The baby flapped arms and legs as it called out. The sun priest recovered first.
"Orisis blesses me! He returns the soul of my other son!" he shouted joyfully. Thrusting Mi-Kell-Lo into the nurse's arms, he picked up the other babe. The baby shrilled vigorously. He trust the child up towards the ceiling.
"For, this gift, mighty Orisis, a hundred devotions! "Come," he ordered. Bring the babes. So saying, he led them out.
The two death priests found themselves alone in the birthing room. Each silently in thought. Then the younger asked "Our Lord Orisis never returns a soul?"
"True" answered the older.
"But that babe definitely has a soul? I sensed it."
"Oh, yes. But from where, I have no idea."
"His eyes.! His eyes were silver."
"Yes. Imagine. Silver eyes."
"What do we do Senior One?"
"Do? The gods have a reason for this. We wait and we watch." ...
---TRIBOAR-THE SAVAGE NORTH---
YEAR OF THE ORC
"How the mighty have fallen." The thought raced through Scuro's mind over and over again. He sat by himself at a small table in the pub's back corner, 'The Triboar Arms'. He nursed a cup of mead. The noise and odor were bearable, as was the clientele. The food, though plain peasant fare, was warm and filling. And importantly, reasonably priced. After his many years of wandering, Scuro was becoming used to bland tasting food, so different from the Duparian hot and spicy cooking.
His landlady, the owner of the rooming house, one Jandra, had recommended this particular tavern.
"Food is good and cheap and the clients don't fight" she had said. "I'll have your room ready by the time you return. What did you say your name was, again? Where are you from?" She had taken his money for a month's stay.
"Ro-Lund-Do" he had answered using his Dupari name. He always used the Duparian name. "I am Duparian,-way to the south, a minor cleric of Aman-Ra.
"Funny, I always thought southerners were short and dark. At least the ones who ever stayed here were. And who is this Aman-Ra person?"
He had almost lost control then. He could not tell if her ignorance was real or just an act. His old imperial intolerance for outspoken lower classes almost manifested and he nearly death-touched her on the spot. But his stay here in the time of these moderns had taught him to control his impulses. Instead he gritted his teeth, smiled and explained.
"Aman-Ra is a Mulhorandi god; one of the Deep South, near the Golden Water. I serve him", he lied and then continued. "I have some kind of genetic disease, incurable without destroying me, which gives me my features. It also made me outcast" he lied again.
Scuro or Ro-Lund-Do, as he was known, was a very handsome man. Tall, thin and lanky. His long hair and bright eyes were silver. His skin had a silver tone to it. He looked like no regional human on the face of Faerun.
"Makes no never mind to me dearie" she had cackled. You're here to search for 'The Lost Guide Gold'. Well, you know my terms. Should you fail to return after one month in the field, I get to keep whatever is in your room, because you will not be coming back." She had snickered again then.
"Take my advice young man" she added. "I like you. Come back before the time is up." She had left then and he went to find the inn.
"How the mighty have fallen" he thought again. From an Imperial Death Priest to this pretense. Where once he had commanded vast armies, performed powerful magics, owned countless slaves, to this single, barely able to survive, living hand to mouth minor cleric. Oh well, at least he had survived. All he had to do now was re-create the spell of the Soul Time Transference. But to do that he needed money. Money to make even more money. Enough to start or buy out an organization. Lots of it. So here he was. In this hellhole to nowhere. Tomorrow he had an appointment with one Zandever Eyredanus called 'Nighteyes'.
As he slowly sipped his mead, his thoughts traveled back to how he came about to arrive at this point in space and time.
Growing up in the Great Temple, he was different from the other children, right from the start. As they grew darker in the sun, he grew lighter and grew in height. His hair came out silver. Soon he was a silver giraffe amongst dark antelope. Then the nightmares began. He would dream of falling cities of flames and slaughter. Terrified, he would call out in a strange language. A beautiful elven maid would look imploring at him. Undead beings would fawn over him.
As he grew ever different from his fellows, his ancient memories would begin to be recovered. Sensing his alien ness, his childhood friends began to withdraw. Only his father, Pa-Squa-Le, his brother, Mi-Kell-Lo and his younger half-sister, Pa-Lean-Na treated him equally. In his studies, he excelled in the necromantic arts. Not because he learned any better than the others, but more because he seemed to be remembering material already well known.
He tried to fit in. Oh, yes indeed. The turning point came at the Night of Choosing. Twelve year olds would, fast and pray all day. Then in the evening, in the darkened hall of the gods, they would kneel and wait all night to hear which god would call upon them to serve. His brother was chosen that night by mighty Horus-Re. But no god came for him. Even his little sister, five years later, was called on by the goddess Isis. How he resented their looks of pity. Nor was he called the following year or the next. Eventually he stopped trying.
So while the others were inducted into the ways of the priesthood, he continued to help out with the embalming and the mummifications. Finally he could stand it no longer.
After Pa-Lean-Na's choosing, he went to his father. He explained that he had to leave, to find his own way in the world. It was clear that no Murhorandi god would choose him.
What he did not explain was that he had stolen a wand of curing and the red and orange robes of a priest of Aman-Ra. More importantly he did not explain that the previous night (he had always liked the night better), he had come to his own power. His memories had all returned. He knew what to do.
He had been wandering through the cemeteries, spying on the necromancers as they came to rob graves for body parts. Instead of reporting them, he had at times offered his help for a few coins. The grave robbers on their part, seeing this strange looking lad, had sensed that in spirit, he was one of them and gladly accepted his aid. Thus, the youngster Ro-lund-Do learned the art of grave robbery, which graves to choose, old or fresh, what body parts could be used for what purpose.
Last night he had come across a victim of a savage mugging, who had been dumped in the cemetery. The man had just been able to plead for help. Upon closer examination, Scuro noted, that the victim was close to death. If he did nothing, the man would certainly die. Nor could he run for help in time. The man was doomed. So, thought the young Scuro would it not be more meaningful if the man's death served a purpose?
He drew out his dagger and made a small incision across the man's jugular. As the blood pumped out in little spurts, he laid his hands on the man's heart. As death approached, he drew out the man's energy. It was only a little, but it was enough to unlock the last memories, enough to allow him to connect to the energy of Death. He had become a Death Cleric. He served no deity but knew how to convert the death energy into spell magic. The essence of Death was his divine source.
He would pretend to be a minor priest of Aman-Ra. That would explain his clerical powers. He would use his new ability to heal to hire himself out as a healer to earn passage. He would wander the face of Faerun, searching for others like himself.
And so he had departed Dupari. Thus began, what he termed the Years of Searching. First on a boat to the highly magic land of Halruaa. Yes, these people were descendants of the Netherese but had been bastardized with other races. He felt no kinship. Then to Shadovar. Here were more pureblood Netherese, but they were of the lower castes and had forgotten their glory, their heritage and their powers. Even the language they spoke was no longer recognizable. He had nothing in common with them. Then he heard of the city of Shade. So then it was off to the Anauroch desert- once a plush land, the heart of the Netherese Empire. Here his appearance followed Bedine tribal legends and they took him in. He lived among them, learning the Chondathan language. Once they took him to trade with merchants of Shade. He saw the floating city and recognized it as Thalanthar. But it was tainted with shadow stuff. The inhabitants turned into shades. He would not be welcomed there. He seemed to be the last true Netherese of Noble caste in all of Faerun. As much as he knew, in the entire world of Toril.
He knew then that he had to change his purpose. He would re-create the Soul Time Transference spell. It was his and unique. But it was dangerous. Others would want the spell. Still others would destroy him to prevent the spell. Secrecy was of utmost importance. He could trust no one, NO ONE! He would go back into the past and re-create history, as was his original intent. But this time nothing would interfere, NOTHING! He would ensure that! Time was needed. Time to improve his powers. Also he would need knowledge and money.
Years had already passed. Off to Candlekeep to acquire knowledge. He had thought of the Leaves of Learning in Deepingdale, but there unlike Candlekeep were kept no tomes of magic. He spent many years at Candlekeep. The monks had welcomed him as a Seeker of knowledge. He had earned his stay by curing and imparting information to them about the geography, history and deities of the Golden Water. Until one day, he learned of the Lost Guide Gold of Triboar. A good start to money gathering, he thought then. Then off to the Metropolis of Waterdeep. Then hiring himself as a healer for the caravan of 'The Triboar Travellers." So here he finally was. Tomorrow he would meet with the guide and determine his next steps. On his way to destiny! He quaffed the last of his mead, stood and headed back to the Six Windows and a good night's sleep.
Compared to the cities and wonders you visited and conquered, Triboar is a pimple on the ass of the world. It is a mundane mud hole - a drab excuse for a city - and it does not live up to the reputation this place has amongst the people of this era as one of the jewels of "The North". Though, you find that with most of the beings of this time - they have no idea what grandeur is.
However, you are not here to judge this place, though it is difficult not to - rather you are here to claim a magnificent treasure - one that will allow you to begin the preparations to return to your rightful place - your rightful time.
Throughout the lands, tales of lost treasures abound, but for you, one particular tale resonated with you - the tale of the "Lost Guide". His name and the reason he was hauling this treasure have become obscured by time and a generation of drunken retellings of the tale in countless inns and alehouses - but the essence of the tale has always remained - just over 30 years ago, the "Lost Guide" disappeared somewhere between Triboar and Yartar, his wagon rumoured to be ladened with sacks of gold and other wondrous "treasures".
When you arrived in Triboar, your inquiries caught the attention of a distasteful little fellow - Belig the dwarf - a self proclaimed Death Delver. Of what you know of Death Delvers, they are death-obsessed truth-seekers who claim to have powers that rival those of necromancers - the very thought drawing a snort of derision.
However, this sycophant has proven useful, you grudgingly admit to yourself. You drew his attention as you inquired after certain ingredients at Edwin’s Emporium of the Wondrous. Belig recognized those ingredients as those associated with certain necromantic spells and ceremonies. He immediately became your second "shadow", asking after your interest in the dead and your reasons for being in Triboar. He himself happily revealed that he had travelled to Triboar based on a rumour of foul happenings during a ceremony of Tempus, but to his chagrin, the clerics of that warrior god were tight-lipped about any such occurrence, in fact, denying it outright.
He also intimated that Everwyvern House was a key source of all things necromantic - a claim you have not yet been able to confirm.
But more importantly, he had gained the trust of some of the dullards of this town, and had offered to make some inquiries on your behalf regarding the "Lost Guide", and he succeeded where you had only been met with mild indifference.
And thus why you stand in front of the The Talking Troll - the foul stench wafting out of the bar everytime the door swings open and closed making you gag involuntarily. According to Belig’s sources, Zandever "Nighteyes" Eyredanus is the person you need to speak to and that he would be in the backroom of The Talking Troll this particular afternoon. "Nighteyes" - one of the most famous and beloved of the Triboar based guides has apparently been delving into the mystery of the "Lost Guide" for years and he - if anyone can - will be able to help focus your search. You distractedly finger the medallion decorated with a single eye that Belig gave to you to mark yourself as a friend to Zandever as you gird yourself to enter this establishment, reminding yourself to make Belig pay dearly is this turns out to be a wild goose chase. "Why couldn’t this Zandever patronize somewhere like The Triboar Arms" you mutter to yourself, withdrawing some of your harsh criticism of the Arms as you enter the "glory" that is the Troll.
As your eyes adjust to the gloom of the great room, you see the hallway to the back room. Above the opening of the hallway is a sign - sparkling in comparison to the grime of the walls - bearing the image of a single eye. And surprisingly, all the patrons give the hallway a wide, respectful berth. You make your way through slumped silhouettes of dishevelled patrons. The hallway is only 20 feet long and opens up to a large space that is still obscured in shadows. Once again, you curse Belig as you step forward and all of a sudden the world goes dark ...
This occurs after the defeat of the Skum humanoids by the side of the lake.
Scuro lowered his crossbow. The amphibious creatures that had attacked them were all dead or run off. His death energy was exhausted. There would be no more divine spells until he rested. Bending down to pick up a bolt, his mind was suddenly by memories. Memories of his wizardly powers fomented inside his head. The knowledge of arcane spells, especially necromantic ones, bubbled up and then burst. Over and over again. He realized to maintain them; he would need to write them down in a spell book.
Most importantly, he recalled the ritual that would bring a friend. One that would be absolutely faithful to him. One he could trust wholeheartedly. (summom familiar). One that would aid him in his quest. All he had to do now was to remain alive to spend his share of the gold.
This occurs during the battle against the aboleth in the underground lake..
Scuro lay hurt in the boat. All around him, his 'companions' were in combat against the aboleth and its minions. His ribs and head still ached from that giantess blood bitch monk's grappling attack. At least she had finally overcome her psionic domination.
Again, he felt that merciless, alien presence in his mind. Again, he concentrated all his free will in resisting its mental takeover attempt. Then he heard a cold spiteful voice in his head. It sounded in High Netherese. Its words left him amazed. It knew! It knew all about him!
"You are strong willed, time traveller. Few have been able to resist me. Yet, I should not be surprised. We are so alike in many ways. We both seek to rule through dominated slaves. You should control your servants better."
"How do you know me? How is this possible?"
"Foolish! Have you lost so much of your knowledge? My kind know many ancient and terrible secrets. I know of you Imax Forzar .Should I fail to dominate you, I am to give you a message. Listen carefully, lord necromancer.
Arianna is without a soul. Her spirit sleeps somewhere cold. Find it and lead it back home. These are her words- Wake me up inside. Wake me up inside. Call my name, my love, and save me from the dark.--. Your friends will need you soon. Good bye , at least for now. That human in the water. I could have taken him, but you will need him. So, I leave you your servant. I go to collect my reward."
The voice ended. Scuro sat shock still.
"Arianna! Are you here as well? Oh, my Arianna!"
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