The Tale of Mal'Ahkt
1001 Tales of Maj'Dul - by Odyllus, the Oracle of Lifire.
The pages look blank. There is a line with an 'x' beside it.
Once upon a time there was a trotter named Lumena the great. The trotter came across a book, a mysterious book empty of tales, but filled with potential wonders. There was no title to the book, but it pleaded for one. Now the book was not good, not good at all. The dark black flesh bound cover reeked of this. The book also reeked of magic, a magic waiting for a title... waiting... waiting...
Curiosity plagued the mind of this trotter. "Could I name the tale to be told" the trotter wondered. "Would the tale be a foreboding one regardless of good intentions?" pondered the trotter. They say "curiosity killed the kerran" and this was a fact well known. But "those who risk reap the rewards" as well can be heard. Slowly, ever so slowly, Lumena took the pen from the quill and began to scribe the title of the tale...
It began long ago in the days when the Dal roamed the land and the sand was a lustrous green. This was the Elddar the great forest from which all sprang. It was within the majesty of this green that the Dal came to exist.
Within the towering Elddar pines the Dal constructed a great city and in this great city they paid tribute to the gods that graced Norrath with the Elddar and all that is green and good. This great society was one of benevolence and together the Dal and the Elddar did prosper from such goodness.
There was a day when a Dal named Mal'Ahkt questioned the power of benevolence and grew curious of darker arts. Mal'Ahkt wished to delve into the Dal's hidden vault of such things, a place where they hide such things for the good of all that breath. Such a place was the Pagoda of Tal'Thex.
The Pagoda of Tal'Thex was known to few. It was constructed far to the Southwest beyond the jungles, beyond the hills and bordering the Buried Sea. In the land barren of life the great citadel was built. Only here could the Dal hide evil from evil.
Mal'Ahkt had learned of the Pagoda of Tal'Thex from a dying old man, dying from the clutches of Mal'Ahkt that were wrapped around his wrinkled neck. This elder had constructed the great guardians of stone that crept across the dead lands. These were the Guardians of Tal'Thex.
The Guardians of Tal'Thex were behemoths of handmade stone. Great magical blocks stacked in a towering obelisk. For many suns and many moons great mages would bombard the obelisk with great powers, forming it into the most powerful constructs to ever lumber.
As the obelisk's power shined bright within the obelisk was transported to the land it would be bound to. The Guardians of Tal'Thex would find their place in the barren land between the pagoda and all else. Here in this land devoid of life the greatest sculptors of Dal carved the obelisks into towering warriors. And there the sculptors would give their life.
The land that was barren drained all creatures of life and the sculptors knew of this, but did their art for the protection of Norrath. As they completed the sculpting of the titanic Guardians of Tal'Thex, life ebbed from their bodies. A few of the sculptors attempted to escape the death of the hills, but only one escaped the grasp of the hills. The sculptor was Haldinous of Rynthele and he lived to sculpt again.
Haldinous of Rynthele lived a great grand life, sculpting for many empires and telling tales of dead hills. He lived a long and prosperous life after escaping the hills, but his work there would lead the evil Mal'Ahkt's hands around the frail neck of the sculptor. In final gasps the location of the Pagoda of Tal'Thex was given, as was the secret to Haldinous' escape from the barren hills.
Haldinous of Rynthele knew his trip to the dead hills would see the end of his life, unless his power of sculpture could provide him with a means to save him from the deadly clutches of the hills. Haldinous had learned of the Clay of Cosgrove, magical clay taken from the planes themselves. This could make a new life.
In great stealth Haldinous acquired a portion of the Clay of Cosgrove that rested in the Workshop of Alidon, home to the greatest of sculptors. With but a simple pinch of the clay Haldinous was able to fashion and identical match to himself. All that was missing was a mind.
Haldinous began to carve magic words into the golem of his self. These magic words would temporarily transfer a portion of his self into the golem. In a great fury of pain the golem came to life and there Haldinous stood staring at himself from himself. With this new body of clay he shall march in and out of the dead hills.
Haldinous marched across the barren hills in a body of magic clay. He found the transported obelisk of the Guardian of Tal'Thex he was to sculpt, one of many. Other sculptors worked feverishly to complete the sculpture before their bodies would die. Haldinous would lose his life, a life of clay.
Back in a secret place the real Haldinous sprang to full life! He had managed to survive, but could not tell the empire who would frown on the use of the sacred Clay of Cosgrove. He gathered his notes and hid them away. He emerged days later to tell a fable of his journey in the land of dead hills.
Haldinous grew old and became a friend to all mages. His love of mead and good song often brought about whispers of his past exploits. It was his whisper of the Pagoda of Tal'Thex that reached the ear of Mal'Ahkt. The evil mage forced the secret from the now old and enfeebled man. Now he had the location of the vault of evil artifacts the Pagoda of Tal'Thex and a way past the dead hills.
The evil mage Mal'Ahkt would see the end of a few more Dal's before he began his journey in a body of clay. In the secret lab of the dead Haldinous Mal'Ahkt found a smidgen of the Clay of Cosgrove to form his clay self. After his sculpting was complete he began to scribe the magic words and transfer his soul and the clay Mal'Ahkt opened his eyes.
In amazement the new Mal'Ahkt stared before himself with a smile and smirk of the plunder to come. As he smiled he began to hear a laugh not his own. He stared at his other self and saw two hands reach about it with a dagger at his other throat.
"You are a fool" said the being behind his real self. In a shock he saw Haldinous' face emerge from the shadows. "I cannot die, I am clay forever as are you." With a bloody swipe the real Mal'Ahkt fell to the floor. The clay Mal'Ahkt could not move! He had used a false clay stored as the true thing. The evil mage had been fooled.
Haldinous never was two. Haldinous was always clay, given life from a sculptor to live a secret life amidst the living. He aged himself appropriately and even would accept deconstruction at an appropriate age to mimic his new fellow residents.
Haldinous was as much a Dal as any, swearing allegiance to their causes such as the keeping of the secret of the Pagoda of Tal'Thex. Mal'Ahkt was fooled into a near immobile body of inferior clay. Haldinous then began work on his final work with the now helpless soul of Mal'Ahkt.
Haldinous formed a final Guardian construct for the Elddar Empire, one to wage war against undead empires, one that needed a dab of dark arts. And so the sentience of Mal'Ahkt was painfully removed and all his great power used to form the construct defender called the Guardian of Nief.
Mal'Ahkt was foolish to betray his people and paid his full price. His soul is now in a void of oblivion and his powers within the guardian. Mal'Ahkt is no more. - The End