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Meanwhile, Nala once again casts the wrong spell. She heard something explode and a strange mist formed from which she could hear growling. She’s happy Professor Pinfeathers thinks she can help, “If he believes in me, I should too.” While the growls inside the mist seem to be getting louder, Nala fixes coffee and tries to figure out how to get rid of the mist. “I know where I went wrong! I won’t make that mistake again...though I may make others.”
Nala realizes the spell only affected her and decides to treat it as a curse. The visions intensify and Nala feels “This hallucination is getting stronger – the mist is closing in, and the beast’s growls rattle my very soul.” Nala is afraid, “My scientific mind wonders what will happen if the mist reaches me, but common sense tells me I don’t want to know. Maybe magic isn’t my thing, after all.” Shaking herself out of that negativity, she makes an ingredient list and begins searching for a two-horned root.
Preparing a new spell to lift the curse, Nala says “The mist is calling me to enter it! I don’t know how long I can resist its thrall. I’m impressed that I cast such a powerful spell, even accidentally.” Finally, Nala prepared all the ingredients but further complications arise when she loses the spell! She sends a bird to her mentor and pictures her mentor shaking his head at her misadventures.
Finally, the spell worked and the mist is receding. Shadow sends word he wishes to speak with you.
Shadow’s glad his message reached you and says “Nala is far smarter and more responsible than you’d think.” Aware the Lord of Darkness knows he’s not loyal to him anymore, Shadow wants to make sure he and Lilith are safe. “I need to divert suspicion away from myself. Lilith’s magic protected me, and it’s time I repaid that debt.”
Shadow won’t allow the Lord of Darkness’s wrath to fall on Lilith, but he’s afraid you won’t like his plan. “I must erase her from my memory. It’s the only way to make sure the Lord won’t find even a trace of her in my mind.” Desperate, Shadow knows “I’ll need powerful hypnosis to erase such vivid memories and I know of only one artifact capable of that. First, I need to order a staff base from a blacksmith. The blacksmith must make a rare alloy.”
Shadow finds the metals the blacksmith needs and now must obtain a pure rock crystal from the dwarves. They tend to be uncooperative, so Shadow must think of something to persuade them. He sends the shadow bird to the dwarves with his offer.
“Look! It’s (the rock crystal) as pure as a unicorn’s tear. Its sparkle will surely help me forget my graceful huntress.” Shadow sends the crystal to the blacksmith to place in the staff and now must find a way to keep his memories safe in case he can ever restore them. The blacksmith sent Shadow a crystal shard that can be used to save his memories of Lilith, but it needs a special metal setting to seal in the memories safely. Shadow found a famous jeweler who agreed to cut and set the crystal, but he has a strange feeling about him.
The staff arrived from the blacksmith, but Shadow found out the jeweler tried to sell the crystal. One of his shadow birds made sure he finished the job, as he promised. With the crystal and staff in hand, Shadow says “I may not be myself the next time we speak. Don’t forget to remind me who I am when the time is right.”
Sure enough, Shadow has no idea who you are but remembers you’ve helped him before. “I don’t feel well. No more talking for right now. We’ll cross paths again another time.
Nala is feeling much better and is ready to help find the next artifact. She’ll have to work harder than she expected because the artifact is guarded by a terrible beast, a toothy, loud one. “Maybe that terrible creature wants something to eat. I would guess it’s not looking for dandelions and buttercups.” The beast is full and happy, having calmed right down once Nala fed it her lunch and the Runic Paint of the Ancients is yours.
Pinfeathers is sorry to hear about Shadow’s memory, but the goal is closer thanks to his noble decision. Torrum the Weapon Maker and Ludwig Milton, Skeleton Knight, could be of help.
Torrum the Weapon Maker, now residing in the Valley of Fallen Giants, remarks you’d make an excellent dwarf and is ready for another challenge. “The Unicorn Brush was believed lost a long time ago. The legends place it in the ruins of an ancient town of craftspeople.” Torrum knows where the ruins are and plans to fire up the mechanical portal once again. “A bit of tinkering here and there and it’ll be ready. I just need a couple of parts.” The portal is missing a thingamajig, but Torrum says “a good mechanic knows how to get missing parts quickly. That’s half the job.”
Torrum receives a concerned message from his brother, Magrum, of Diamond Mountain. “Magrum’s note claims the gems mined from his mountain are turning black. He has a plan...Well, an idea, at least...Okay, just a thought.” Magrum asked Torrum to send mages to protect against whatever is happening, but most mages are afraid of Diamond Mountain. “Dwarves don’t like strangers in our lands, but sometimes we have to take radical steps.” Torrum knows the one thing mages can’t refuse and offers them gems from the very heart of his mountain in exchange for their help. “I’ve sent word to the mages. I can imagine the shock on their bearded faces! Hopefully, they accept the offer.”
While it’s said dwarven fortitude could forge steel, Torrum isn’t so sure about his. An all-consuming darkness is forming inside the gems, but the mages are still silent! Finally, the mages are sending help. “Wise old men are on their way! We prepared a generous gift for them as thanks for fighting the growing darkness.”
Torrum begins to worry, “The mages are late – I can sense that something is wrong. The mountains are still and quieter than usual with tension.”
Torrum never thought anything he could experience would cause the mix of vivid emotions he’s feeling right now. “A Fiery Redhead – a girl! Magrum says that a red-haired girl arrived! We requested a squad of seasoned battlemages, not some brash child. I have no words to express my anger about the girl that the mages sent! She says she’s a powerful artifact mage. Arrogant as well! Just what I need!”
Once the red-haired girl made her case, there was begrudging acceptance. “I barely talked by brother into allowing her into the heart of the mountain. I can almost hear his teeth grinding from here.”
Seems the girl turned out to be quite a good mage after all, “By my beard, the mage girl, Thalia, found a dark fissure deep in the caverns! My people have awakened something grim deep in the Diamond Mountain! I suspect that whatever escaped from the mountain is now troubling my old friend Lucas and his people. What bad luck! (Doesn’t that sound like the Elemental of the Abyss?)
Lucas the Minotaur, in Grim Mansion, says not to judge a book by its cover. He’s a good person who means you no harm and would like to believe you are as well. He believes you have a trustworthy face and wonders if you’ve ever considered having a minotaur friend could be useful? Lucas introduces himself as Lucas Rampant Stare of the Thunder Axe settlement.
He’s an educated minotaur, having “always had more interest in books and knowledge than combat. Are you surprised by my education? I suppose the stereotype is that minotaurs are warlike, but don’t get me wrong, I can still handle an axe!” Lucas jokes about making you his secretary before getting down to business.
“Here on the Dark Side, there’s a sacred town of minotaurs called Ariadne’s Labyrinth, but the way there is hidden to outsiders. You can’t imagine how beautiful our town is – few have even had the honor of visiting it.”
According to Lucas, something dark and horrible has appeared in the labyrinth. Something he believes is a Shadow Serpent! “The Shadow Serpent is one of the most ancient and horrible of this world’s restless shadows. It has long slumbered in the deep darkness, but something woke it, and now it’s hunting. The Shadow Serpent is small, but it grows each night as it hunts my people, growing bigger and bolder. Our town is in danger.”
Lucas remembers old tales from his youth that mention a Hidden Sword, a legendary weapon capable of destroying dark creatures. “Swords aren’t common weapons for a minotaur – we’re more comfortable with axes – but my hand won’t shake if I wield the Hidden Sword.” Lucas admits the tale of the sword “seemed clearer and more logical when I was a kid” but he vows to deal with the Shadow Serpent himself.
The legend contains a riddle, “The red stone near the rocks is hidden by the shadow of the forgotten tale.” Lucas wonders why riddles are always indirect, but finds his youth wasn’t wasted in those dusty old libraries after all. He knows where to find the sword! “I need to prepare for a journey. Jerky, clean water, my faithful axe. I don’t doubt you at all anymore. May your horns, er, your blade be ever sharp.”
Lucas casts aside thoughts of what could happen if he fails to defeat the Shadow Serpent and offers, “It’s tradition to bump horns with those close to you before you set off in my culture, but that could be dangerous for you, so let’s shake hands as the humans do. See you later, my friend.” Lucas the Minotaur disappears from Grim Mansion.
Torrum is concerned his friend Lucas is standing alone against the Shadow Serpent, but notes “his people were always a bit reckless. I guess we should trust that Lucas knows what he’s doing. In the meantime, my people are preparing for a new threat.”
As you are rewarded with the Unicorn Brush, Torrum leaves these parting words, “I hope to see you again...Hm? Oh, nothing – just the muttering of an old dwarf. Attend to your grand matters!”
Ludwig Milton, Skeleton Knight appears in Ancient Cemetery and wonders what brings you to such a grim place at such a grim hour? He apologizes for his unusual appearance and hopes you’ll learn to look past it once you get to know him better.
Ludwig Milton calls himself a true knight and begins to relate a little about his life. “When I was alive – a long time ago – I was brave but very foolish. It’s my fault I ended up here. I used to live in a castle myself! I was a threat to foes, a protector of friends...and a magnet for ladies. Oh, those were happy times!”
One day, Ludwig caught a glimpse of what he thought was a simple village girl in the forest. She stole his heart, figuratively and literally. She turned out to be a witch. “I became obsessed with her, and every day I plunged deeper and deeper into blind love. I saw her eyes at night and heard her voice call to me from the darkness.”
One night, Ludwig succumbed to her song and went to her as a meek lamb. “She greeted me happily and asked me for a favor. She asked me to help her defeat the Lord of Darkness himself. I’d barely heard her request before I found myself agreeing.” The witch led Ludwig to an old portal and started whispering spells and waving her staff. “I approached the portal as if hypnotized. A reflection of a terrible world appeared in the portal. I stepped inside and heard the wretched witch call the Lord of Darkness ‘master’!” (Okay, I’ll bite...just who is this witch?)
“The veil of love fell from my eyes, and I found myself on the Dark Side. I could barely move, but with the last of my strength, I stabbed the portal’s base with my dagger, destroying it. But the Lord’s revenge was elegant. Here I stand now, neither alive nor dead, unable to leave this place.”
After hundreds of years in solitude, Ludwig is so happy to have someone to talk to. It’s a miracle! Ludwig knows why you came to him and how to help. “It’s as if the wind whispered your goals to me. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is getting the Sky Stones for your artifact.”
While it’s true Ludwig can’t leave the Dark Side, the descendants of those who once swore their allegiance to him now exist in the land of the living. “My faithful raven will deliver a message for one who once swore allegiance to me. He might be dead, but sometimes the sons must pay the debts of the fathers.”
Curious for more of the story, Ludwig continues “Unfortunately, the story isn’t as exciting as you’d think. I once saved a noble knight from a terrible death in harpy’s claws during a hunt. That’s all. If it weren’t for me, his descendants wouldn’t even exist. Anyway, my raven is a reliable means of communication. Help will come soon.”
Ludwig reiterates help is on the way and continues, “The descendant of the one indebted to me is an honorable person who understands our mission’s importance. It’s good to know that even after my death, rebirth, and years of silence, I still have allies.” (Again, who is this descendant paying the debt of his father?)
Then he says, “It’s hard to see from your perspective, but many people are working together to help our mission. Isn’t that a reason to be proud?” (Sounds like a message from the developers)
Ludwig hasn’t felt so alive in a long time and while the only thing holding his bones together is magic, he’s still able to put plans into action. Patience is a virtue and Ludwig can’t believe the Lord of Darkness’s reign is coming to an end. “The Lord of Darkness isn’t trying to stop us. It’s as if he doesn’t believe we can stop him. Centuries of doing as he pleased made the Lord less vigilant. We should take advantage of that, or we may as well only dream of defeating him. It’s time to take action! You are rewarded with the Sky Stones.
Pinfeathers says “We’re moments from triumph, yet the grasping claws of impending doom keep me in terror. One last effort and we can return all of our residents to our world! The Lord of Darkness won’t be able to withstand the power of the ancient artifact, but I still don’t know how it will affect him.
The Genie may be an ethereal being, but on the Dark Side, even he feels disconnected from this world. “I feel a connection to the Lord of Darkness. He seems to want to take control of my spirit. I’m fighting back, but I need your help.” The Genie seems to see through the Lord’s eyes, and he through the Genie’s, so the Genie tries to place a magical barrier, a mental wall, to block the Lord of Darkness from his mind. “I finally seem to be alone in my mind, so we should discuss our plans while we have a chance. I know where Ariadne’s Thread is, but I can’t get it without you.”
The artifact is with the harpies of the Dark Moon. They are reasonable, civilized creatures – as developed as humans. That’s the good news. The bad news is that harpies are generally rather unfriendly. It’s hard to establish and maintain communication with them. The Genie took a calculated risk and used magic to leave his body and scout out the lands of the harpies.
He found a strange disease plaguing the harpies and believes the Lord of Darkness is behind it. “If we offer them a cure, they may give us the artifact.” Magical diseases are difficult to cure and require a delicate mixture of herbs, magic and the Genie’s knowledge. “I’ve come up with a recipe to cure the harpies. None of the flock have died yet, but many are sick. We need to hurry.”
The Genie decides to “ask the witches of Darkwater Moors for some ingredients.” While his connections may be surprising, you make a lot of them when you exist for as long as he has.
The Genie finds it difficult to mix the unmixable, “Some of the ingredients are nearly incompatible with each other, but I am a Genie, after all. I can make miracles. I don’t believe a human mind could have come up with such a recipe. No offense intended. At any rate, I’ve started developing the cure.”
Needing several special magic stones necessitates having tedious negotiations with the goblins of the Ringing Wasteland. “It seems goblins can drive even ethereal creatures mad.”
The Genie begins experiencing terrible, unspeakable pain. “The Lord of Darkness is attempting to learn our plans, but he won’t be able to break through my mental defenses.”
The Genie puts the final touches on the cure, admitting this is the peak of his medical knowledge. “The harpies already know that I have an offer for them, and they suspect it’s related to the disease. Tah’Raa Golden Wing, matriarch and chief of the harpies, wants our cure but refused the exchange. The fate of their tribe is in our hands. They believe that we are incapable of empathy, so I intend to prove them wrong. The cure is ready, it must go to those in need, no matter what.
***END OF UPDATE*** (Genie says “I have nothing for you right now. Take your wishes elsewhere!”)