After the great conflagration that began This Age, Aremaia
Starling was the first - with the intervention of Rinanni - of the high priests to return
from whence they went at the time of the troubles. Dazrada Soros came next, the darkling
high priest of Taath...
About the time of the recall of Dazrada Soros, a small
Flerian, one named Sampo Grotte, appeared in the Spur. He, of course, followed that most
honorable of professions for a Flerian - a thief. An excellent thief. And to quote a
comtemporary, "He knew things."
At first the things he told his aquaintances were shrugged
off. But after what he foretold happened, or was proven true, they began to take notice,
and soon he had a small following. Sampo did not arrive alone in Spur, however -
everywhere he went he was watched by black-robed men.
One day, he called aside a small group of friends and asked
them to swear to The Oath of the Burrow with him, that they might help him complete a
quest. Some immediately, like Random DiAmber - ever an adventurer - complied. Others, like
Bren Dellaster, resisted as Sampo would not tell them of the quest until they swore.
Eventually all he chose were convinced, and so was the Circle of the Oath formed.
The Circle included these: Random DiAmber, the Runemage;
BrenDellaster, the Secian cleric; Calondin Fflammdwyn, the Psycian; the drag-al bards Roxy
Glitterchaser and her husband Xyzzy Spursearcher; and of course, Sampo himself.
Finally Sampo told them of their quest. Dazrada Soros had
been confined to the Temple of Taath... whether by he who returned him, or by some other
power is still not known. Soros was seeking to break those wards, and to do so, he
required certain items of power. Sampo's quest was to steal these items and put them
beyond the reach of Soros.
Their quest was not without resistance. Soros received word
and soon gathered his own cadre to oppose their efforts, showing a flaming vellum scroll
to any and all Taathians he could, convincing them to give him aid and watch those of the
To aid them in the search, Sampo gave Random a rainbow actar
ring, with instructions to rub it in the presence of items suspected to be those they
sought - it would glow if the guess was correct.
The first item sought was a sword. Information Sampo had
obtained indicated a sword could kill Soros while he was neutralized by another item. It
was believed that the sword was Mordecai's black diamond greatsword, now in the possession
of Artaxerxes Stormclaw. The first goal was to get that sword and test it with the ring.
The Circle tracked down Artaxerxes and did their best to
convince him to let them have the sword, to no avail. While they regrouped at the Rose
Eternal to consider their next step, word came that the sword had exchanged hands and was
now in the possession of Cassia, Artaxerxes' lifemate. She was more amenable to their
advances and soon they had the sword, waiting breathlessly as Random rubbed the ring.
Nothing happened. Downcast, they returned the sword and sought Sampo to pass on the news.
He shrugged it off, pointing out they needed only one item to
disrupt the ceremony, though of course more were better. He told them he had new
information. There was a vial of essence required by the ceremony, and it was hidden...
perhaps in Moonglum's crypt. Immediately, they headed for the graveyard.
If you have never visited the crypt of Moonglum, you must. It
is a dark and brooding place, full of shadows that hide horrors you have no wish to see.
Here the Circle went, and standing in the center, Random again rubbed the ring, hoping for
some clue of what they sought. Again nothing.
The Circle returned to the Rose to seek inspiration while
Sampo disappeared to consult his sources. While no inspiration came from the vast
quantities of ale downed, Sampo's sources did not let him down. Apparently, part of what
they sought was behind a hidden portal in the temple of Taath, the very heart of their
enemy's power. Sampo revealed the plan. That very night they would break into the temple,
and seek out the portal. Sampo would go through to retrieve the item, but the rest must
flee as soon as he entered, as the guardians would surely notice. They agreed.
And so as the moon set and the night darkened, they stole
down Temple Way to the temple of Taath, feet swaddled in old rags to silence their steps,
weapons muffled in cloaks. At the door they waited as Sampo produced a lockpick and went
to work on the locks. It took but a couple deft twists, and the door eased open slowly
with only the smallest creak to set everyone's nerves further ajangle.
Sampo tucked away the pick and slipped in, silent as a
shadow. The others followed... They slipped into the very sanctum of Taath's power and
approached the black altar. Wincing at the stench of dried blood, Random came forward when
beckoned by Sampo, and rubbed the rainbow ring. A fat spark leapt from the ring to the
altar, almost as if the ring spit. Sampo shook his head slowly and whispered, "Not
here. It will glow when the place is right." They continued on, searching the temple
room by room, careful not to disturb the acolytes sleeping in the alcoves.
It was in the office of the High Priest that the ring glowed.
Quickly and expertly Sampo searched the room and soon he revealed a hidden door. Again he
produced his lockpick and set to work. This time it took longer and the others waited as
he frowned in concentration. Finally the last tumbler clacked over into place, and with a
slight thunk Sampo pulled the bolt back. As he eased up the trapdoor, green light flooded
the room from below! "Quickly now, run - I shall meet you later in the Psycian's
Guild," Sampo whispered, and was gone into the eerie glow.
The others hesitated, wondering at what they saw - then
demons appeared and attacked! Most ran, but Random remained behind, striking at the
demons, so Bren too stayed. Then a demonlord stepped through the portal shouting,
"Begone!" With one mighty blow he struck Random dead and glared fiercely at
little Bren. Uncowed, Bren prayed for aid... and Elindale smote the demon, sending him
back to the dark plane from whence Taath had summoned him. Again Bren cried out... and
Random's body shimmered and stood as Elindale returned life to Random. They fled.
The Circle met in the Psycian's Center and there discussed
what they had seen, wondering if they would again see the little Flerian who had so
fearlessly entered the very heart of Taath's power despite demon and demonlord guardians.
As they spoke a voice was heard, "I shall return, be patient," and a set of
glowing morbius stones appeared on the floor. Random quickly grabbed them. In the days
that followed the others tired of his constant wordplay with every female they passed,
"Wanna see my rocks?" and so wrested the stones from him, and they passed into
the hands of Bren who holds them to this day.
But that was the last of Sampo. Some time later he returned,
this time with information that the vial of essence they sought was in the park. Again the
Circle set forth, Random rubbing the ring in various places in the park. As they sought
word came to Sampo that something was happening in the temple of Taath. Immediately Sampo
vanished. The others looked at each other and returned to the Rose Eternal to wait news...
Sampo returned to the temple of Taath and there found Dazrada
Soros' horribly mutilated corpse lying on the floor of his office, and above it stood a
thing which Sampo could not, or would not, describe... a thing of such horror that Sampo
fled, stopping only to tell a passerby of that which he had seen... and Sampo has not been
Whether he yet lives is not known - but no braver soul, or
more noble hero has the Spur seen, than this little Flerian. Remember his name.
* * * *
The interesting thing is that I see connections to current
events; everything is tied together. The Dazrada Soros of this tale died. Yet another
Soros appeared and attacked the Spur, and seemed to die. Who was that one? Was it a
manifestation of the Lord of Deception? There is a power in the South mentioned in old
bardic tales... is this it? Is this what Sampo saw and fled?
Revised: September 02, 1998.
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