The Lost Vale

Chapter 13:


Snik-Poh's residence The cavern contained all the creature comforts, a bed, a pantry, and a bookshelf -which Beren noted contained several familiar and unfamiliar books - as well as several chests, an altar, and on the floor a glowing square cube. To be honest, Beren found the entire cavern somewhat familiar.

"Well, sorcerer," said Snik-Poh behind him, "I brought you here because I wished to talk to you, as one practitioner of magic to another." The High Cleric waved his hands, "Please feel free to browse."

Beren felt the effects of the hammers fade, and he was able to move again. He walked gently over to the bookshelf and looked at the titles. "On Sorcerous Ways" by Corodin of Argentrock was one of the first that greeted him, then, and more importantly he read the title "The Tongue of Flame". Other titles Beren recognized included "Earthen Magic", "The Destruction of the Temple" and "An Objective History of Pagan" by Mythran. There were some that Beren did not recognize such as "A Journey of the Mind: The Ethereal Realms" by Corwin, "Alternative Travellings", "Foci: Truth or Fiction", "Theology: Three or Six", "The Old Gods" and "Ascension".

"I keep an extensive library, both titles written in our land and, what -was- your land," said Snik-Poh suddenly.

"I see that," said Beren, "but where did you get…"

"Tell me…"


Beren consults Snik-Poh's library "Tell me Beren, is it true that your sorcery comes through the power of foci, and that magical energy from the caster is only used in the creation of these foci."

Beren scowled, and said, "You tell me. You appear to have the correct reading materials."

There was a snickering sound from behind Beren. "True. I already knew the answer to that. Now tell me, do you have foci with you?"

Beren intended to say, "No. What foci I had back in Pagan was destroyed in the flood" but instead found himself saying, "Yes, in the enchanted bag of holding I possess."

"Indeed, now tell me what you know of the Ethereal Realm."

"What is this?" asked Beren. "Why are you asking me these questions? How do you know so much of my people?"

"I shall answer your questions but in return you must let me show you something," said Snik-Poh. "I must first prepare… I shall see you soon."

Snik-Poh cast the spell he had used before Lord Traust. He disappeared. Grumbling Beren made his way to the bookcase. He idly picked up a book, "The Hierarchy of Traustumbrae" and idly flicked through it.

He read:

The book reads: "Social Status in Traustumbrae (Festyear). While the position of High Warrior is filled by another Naggerik as has been the tradition since the Great Disaster, our honoured leader Traust-Naggerik has chosen a second-in-command among one of the old religion of the six or three. The High Cleric, as the new title goes, fulfills the role of High Priest and Holy Warrior in one. High Cleric Snik-Poh was a relative stranger in Traustumbrae until he struck down Troll Warrior Adabis with one mighty prayer to the Ancients. The warriors agreed. Snik-Poh promises to learn of, and renew the old faiths."

After a few minutes pondering the book, Beren finally snapped it shut. That was enough insight into Zealan society for today, he thought. A whooshing noise distracted him, and there on the floor pad stood Snik-Poh.

"There," said Snik-Poh, "we are ready now."

"What is ready?" asked Beren, becoming exasperated with all the mystery. Snik-Poh did not answer, he simply waved his hand and Beren appeared in a square, stone room. Alone.

There were no exits apparent, only huge stone walls and on the floor was a silver pentagram. All over the silver pentagram were scattered bones and the occasional rusty sword.

"I hope you do not mind," the booming voice of Snik-Poh said, "but I would appreciate your insights on what you will experience."

A giant skeleton! With a loud crack and a loud flash of light, Beren found the skeletons were gone, and in place was a gargantuan skeleton warrior armed with a very large sword! Beren reached for his bag of holding. Thankfully Snik-Poh had not removed the pouch. Beren soon found the foci he needed, and began to invoke the spell - Flame Bolt. At his command, a bolt of flame shot from the rod and hit the giant skeleton.

Something unexpected happened. The skeleton stepped back, but seemed undamaged. Then the bolt shot back, and narrowly missed Beren.

"Enough!" said Snik-Poh, appearing between both skeleton and human. With a wave of his hand he cast a spell which dispelled the skeleton.

"What were your thoughts on that creature?" said the High Cleric finally, "What did you think of them?"

Beren scowled, but then looked thoughtful. "Powerful. Magic resistant?" Snik-Poh nodded and the sorcerer continued, "From what I saw the sword could cut two ranks in half."

"Good," said Snik-Poh, stopping him there.

Beren thought that only the now-dead Necromancers could summon undead. But he had never heard of, or encountered, a skeleton so big, or so powerful. Think of what an army of these skeletons could do.

Snik-Poh appeared to read his thoughts and grinned as Beren strode to join him, "Perhaps you would like to know how I summoned that creature."

Beren nodded.

A Silver Pentacle "See the silver pentacle on which we stand," said Snik-Poh, pointing at the pentacle. "There are three of these in existence. The first of these rests in the Ethereal Realms, an area which only the most powerful of magic-users can reach. I myself have not reached it yet. It is there that the famous Pagan obelisk was created, destroyed and…" Snik-Poh paused, thoughtfully and continued, "well, when the lands were ripped apart, one of the reasons this area was spared was that there were two high ether areas. One of these areas is here, and the other is in the lands of the Trolls - who you should understand by now are dissimilar to the Trolls of your land. They are intelligent and powerful magic-users."

Beren looked at the tall High Cleric from head-to-toe. He suspected that there was troll blood in Snik-Poh's ancestry.

"At any rate, when I, through recent events, came in contact with one from your land this person offered to give me what was left of your knowledge. This person had access to an extensive library that was left behind in the move. At any rate, I learned of the focus based magic, which enhanced my existing magic. I was able to channel my power into the gate before us and use it as one giant focus."

Beren scowled, "What 'existing' magic?"

Snik-Poh's voice became a whisper, "Have you ever heard of Thaumaturgy? For years my family harnessed it. One of my ancestors once used it to bring down the three lesser Zealan gods. Eventually, after the disaster, the people of Traustumbrae thought the other three had abandoned them to the Titans. With my existing magic I was able to convince them I was a 'chosen one' by the three…"

"…and you became High Cleric."

Snik-Poh nodded.

Beren said, "I have more questions. What do you intend to do with the gate? And how did you know it was here?"

Snik-Poh coughed, "When one of my ancestors defeated the Zealan gods down in these catacombs the portals were created here and in the Troll lands."

Beren blinked. Memories of his vision came back. Sargon-Poh was Snik-Poh's ancestor.

The High Cleric continued, "I intend to enter the Ethereal Realms through this portal, and investigate what lies beyond. It will be quite an adventure and will give me more power… However, the components necessary to cast the Ethereal Travel spells are beyond our means, which is why I employ these two gates, portals or pentagrams… but before I tell you how I will achieve this I must ask you if you will aid me."

"That is why you brought me here!" said Beren, "To aid you."

Snik-Poh nodded, "As a fellow magic-user. And as a sorcerer. You will… appreciate… no understand… my methods."

"So, Beren, do you pledge to join me or not?"

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