It was the eve of battle in the fortified city of Gem Gate. Tensions have been running high throughout the stony halls all day as once great warriors ran to and fro in frantic confusion. Things were settling down now a
s night fell, and it didn’t appear the attack was coming tonight.
For the past few weeks, folks in Gem Gate have been hearing rumors of a coming evil. Rumors of rumors even. Then the rumors became stories, and the stories came closer. Black Ships appearing in Capitol City. Cloaked men overthrowing Easton. Children of Palor being taken from their homes in Riverside.
Cloaked figures now guarded Ferry Town along the Isabel River. The evil was moving towards Gem Gate at an increasing rate, and this made Tenga worried, as he sat overlooking the Gem Stone River.
Tenga was a loyal follower of St. Cuthbert, charged with the spiritual protection of the citizens of Gem Gate. Yesterday they came. The dark figures to confirm the rumors, the stories Tenga hoped were not true. Now they sat across the lake, tents flickering in the campfires, dotting the darkness.
Last night the adventurers came as well. Somehow managing to get into Gem Gate, past the building army outside the walls, and past our defenses. This would have been troubling to Tenga, however he recognized one of the adventurers as a felllow follower of St. Cuthbert, and a priest! For years Tenga had tried to enter the priesthood, but never had the skill.
Tenga waited where the adventurers were resting, waiting for them to fall asleep. Once asleep, he went in to rouse the small Dwarven priest. Silently, he took him out into the hallway, so that they would not wake his friends.
“Greetings, Priest of St. Cuthbert. I am Tenga, loyal follower of Cuthbert, Son of Pitam, follower of the legendary Mace of St. Cuthbert, I…”. Tenga was cut off by the suprised look in the dwarfs eyes.
“What do you know of this mace?” The dwarf demanded, “I’ve had dreams…”
“I am not a priest of St. Cuthbert like you are, my lord, but my father was. He was of a secret order of the seekers of the mace of St. Cuthbert. I was a young lad when we came to Gem Gate. I didn’t understand why we moved around so much, seeking the Mace. My father had dreams, and spent his live’s work trying to figure out what they mean, and where they led. St. Cuthbert doesn’t exactly give a lot of hints, you see…
“He knew the mace was near Gem Gate. He could feel it, and so we moved here looking for the trail. Soon he was training me to take up his work, and I keep following the trail. However, St. Cuthbert doesn’t talk to me in my dreams… I am not worthy of his priesthood like you are.” Tenga stood thoughtfully for a moment. “You say you’ve dreamt of the mace… Are you a seeker?”
The dwarf wasn’t sure how to answer. He didn’t want to offend Tenga, who might have information about his dreams. Tenga seemed a little guarded to him, as if he’d had hardship because of his faith, and constant seeking for something he couldn’t find.
“My name is Frank. I am a battle cleric of St. Cuthbert. He grants me the power to help others to crush their enemies. I only had one dream from St. Cuthbert in which he told me to seek the Mace. No other clues were given, and I’m not even sure where to start.”
“Well met Frank,” Tenga looked at him approvingly, “Please come with me tonight, I’m hosting a meeting for the seekers of the Mace, in the sub-level of commons area.”
Frank nodded, and the two started off down the hallway. They moved silently through the fortified outer areas of Gem Gate. Frank felt a little unprotected, as he was sleeping without his armor and didn’t put it on before his meeting with Tenga. He almost never went unarmored, however the stone walls of Gem Gate did provide some comfort, now that he could feel they were well underground.
The two arrived at a small wooden door, and Tenga knocked three times softly and waited. Another man opened the door a crack and peered at the two standing in the hallway. “Greetings Tenga. May the grace of St. Cuthbert favor your search.”
“And your search as well, Peter,” replied Tenga in a soft voice. Peter opened the door farther and motioned them inside. “The meeting has started, please enter quietly.”
Frank and Tenga walked past Peter and down a short hallway. Up ahead they could hear a voice, and as they entered the main chamber they say a man addressing a small gathering of folks. The man held a miniature golden mace as he spoke.
“Hello, fellow seekers of the great Mace of St. Cuthbert.”
“Hello”, the gathering responded, as Frank took a seat in the back.
“My name is Terrin. It’s been almost one year since St. Cuthbert has graced me with a dream of the mace, and I haven’t had any dreams since.” The congregation nodded and voiced their solidarity. “I tell you verily that not a day goes by that I wish to dream that dream again. I no longer work. My family has left me. I sleep all day trying to get back to that place I was when St. Cuthbert came into my dreams. I’ve been seeking the Mace since that time. I can’t get it out of my head. Why would he give me that dream, tell me to seek the mace, and not give me any indication of where it is?” The man dropped his head in shame. “I must not be worthy of the Mace if I cannot find it. I’ve failed St. Cuthbert. The priesthood would not have me as one of their own. They claimed I was too obsessed over the Mace to be an effective priest of St. Cuthbert.” The man was now shaken, and could not continue. He stepped down and returned to his seat, holding his head in his hands.
Tenga nudged Frank and motioned him towards the front of the room, asking silently if he would say a few words to those gathered.
Reluctently, Frank went to the front of the room. Hope soared in him that he might finally find the answers he’s been looking for. Here in Gem Gate, by some devine fate, were a gathering of folks touched by the same dreams, and trying to cope with the meaning of them and the lack of further instructions.
Once at the front of the room, he took the replica mace in his hands and began his story. “Hello, my name is Frank, and it’s been 6 weeks since I’ve had a dream from St. Cuthbert.”
“Hello, Frank”, the gathering replied.
“St. Cuthbert had me on a mission of vital importance, to stop a growing evil in this land and to restore peace. But now that I’ve had a taste of St. Cuthbert’s Mace I can’t stop thinking about it. I would do anything to have another dream again, to see the Mace one more time, to feel that rush. I no longer care for the safety of my friends, they are but tools to help me reach the mace or to once again have the dream coarsing through my brain. Why, I’m pretty sure that if I had to choose between feeding hungry refugees and seeking the mace, I would seek the mace. My entire life now is lived to get another fix, to qwell this burning desire in my soul to seek the mace. Where do I go? How do I find it? I am ashamed to say that I care not even that this city is about to be attacked, I only seek the Mace.”
For awhile he did not speak, the revelation occurring to him that what he thought his purpose in life, to uphold the Law no matter what, seemed to crumble before him. The Mace was all the thought about now.
“I care not to speak more, I only care to seek the mace. Do any of you have any leads?”
A young man spoke up first, after a time. “Maybe Randolph knows where the mace is?”
The gathering gasped. None of them would dare think about asking Randolph, the powerful wizard who dwelled in the black obelisk. If they had their way, they wouldn’t think of Randolph at all… or the way he dwells with the giants in the mountains.
The lad continued, trying to ignore the rest of the group’s hushes. “He’s the most powerful wizard in these parts. Tenga said his father came here to Gem Gate, knowing the Mace is close. Randolph is here too, that can’t be a coincidence. But none of us are travellers or adventurers. We would die traversing the icy mountain with the fearful monsters, and St. Cuthbert only knows what manner of traps and trials a wizard protects his obelisk with!”
As if for effect, A loud bang from above startled the group at that moment. “They’re starting the attack!” one of the men said as he grabbed his sword and ran off. The rest followed, scattering into the Gem Gate as they ran. Frank head back to where he was resting to don his armor and prepare for battle.
“Randolph knows…” he muttered to himself, “I must convince the others to find him, If I can find him, maybe St. Cuthbert will reward me with another vision, or even the mace itself.”
Noone paid any attention to his mumbling as he pushed passed everyone, now running to prepare for battle.