The Hole Uncovered: Ognit Arrested Vol. I-IV
Al'Kabor was furious. He had lost nearly a week of hard work, lost research components that were expensive and difficult to find, had one of his favorite robes ruined and was assaulted by a gang of small upstart earth elementals. His day was not going well and was about to get worse.
He took a walk to the hills outside of the city of Qeynos as the elemental attack raged on and minor aftershocks from the huge quake rattled the lands. He annihilated any of the earthen beasts he came across. He did this not in defense of the hills nor for any sort of loyalty to Qeynos but more in retaliation for his days of lost work and as therapy for the general feeling of rage and displeasure he was experiencing that day.
In the distance he heard people calling out his name. "Good, perhaps now I will have some answers," he thought to himself. Walking back toward the city he saw a crowd of people running quickly toward him.
"Al'Kabor! There are two gnomes and a barbarian woman that are looking for you. They said it is very important," they told him.
Al'Kabor muttered, "Them. It figures." Then loudly he said, "Very well. Take me to them," he made a shooing gesture with his hands, as if to push the commoners along.
He followed the crowd back to the gates of Qeynos. There he saw the barbarian warrior, Dagda Icefury. With her were the gnomes, Ognit Eznertob and Dabner Drednever. Upon laying eyes upon the wizard, they ran right up to him. Their voices were panicked and they were all talking at the same time. It was impossible to tell who was saying what and why they were so upset.
"We have terrible news!"
"Odus is in danger!"
"There was this wall and things from the ground and.."
"Something went wrong!"
"I didn't mean to do it!"
"They were everywhere! It was terrible and.."
Al'Kabor said, "One at a time please." He waited and still their frantic raving continued. Finally he screamed as loudly as he could, "Quit talking all at once!"
The three stopped suddenly. The wizard Ognitspoke. "I'll tell him. This was all my fault anyway."
Rolling his eyes Al'Kabor said, "Speak then, gnome."
Ognit began, "Well, we were all down in the ruins of Old Paineel. In the Hole. And you remember that Wall of Living Flesh that is way down there? Looks like a big face, you know?"
Al'Kabor balled his fists at his side. "Fool. Tell me that you were not meddling with The Wall!"
Ognit smiled sheepishly and continued, "Well yes. Actually I was to tell you the truth. I came across some writings that told of how your ancestors were trying to find a way to harness the power of that artifact and I thought I would try to continue that research."
Al'Kabor spat, "Ingrate! My ancestors were not Heretics! I've slew hundreds of those fools during the Great War so many years ago!" He glared at Ognit, his eyes flashing with a hideous fury, "You are no better then they it seems!"
Al'Kabor's hands began glowing with a deep red color and the sudden updraft of wind that swirled around them revealed the immensity of the power the wizard had at his disposal. The hairs on the back of Ognit's neck stood on end as the energy began to course and build around him. Ognit winced, expecting to be blasted to bits.
Al'Kabor took a deep breath and the energy that was gathered from the sheer rage of the mighty wizard dissipated. "Fool! Continue." Dagda turned a worried gaze upon the wizard, her hand slowly moving to her sword, just in case.
Dabner fidgeted nervously, shuffling his feet and wringing his gnomish hands. "Wow Al, you're really mad about this aren't you."
Ignoring the last few stressful moments completely Ognit said, "Ehem, yes. So anyway, I found that if I infused that Hatch thing that's attached to the wall with just the tiniest bit of magical energy it would act like a transformer and release HUGE amounts of power!"
Al'Kabor clenched both of his fists and relaxed them once again. "For your information gnome, that Hatch 'thing' you speak of was put in place to protect the Wall of Living Stone and to keep it alive and healthy!"
Al'Kabor continued, "The Heretics damaged the wall of Living Stone by trying to do the very same experiments! After they damaged it they put the Hatch in place to keep the wall alive and strong. The Hatch and the Wall of Living Stone prevent the creatures that inhabit the Plane of Underfoot from entering the world ever again. Your meddling has obviously weakened both."
Ognit nodded and said, "Well yes, of course. My experiments were going really well and I managed to get an amazing power output on my last attempt. That's when things turned badly."
Al'Kabor put the back of his hand to his forehead and asked in a tired voice, "So you damaged the Living Stone, weakened the Hatch and suddenly you were surrounded by denizens of the underfoot breaking loose and running pell-mell to the surface correct?"
"Well, that's about right," Ognit answered.
"No doubt those creatures were all waiting with baited breath for the moment the wall would be weakened sufficiently allowing for their escape again. I'm sure they were alerted the moment you've begun this madness," the wizard hypothesized.
Dabner raised his hand. The diminuative cleric of Brell Serillis said, "Ognit, tell him about that Dartain guy. He seemed pretty nice, except for that bit about draining our life force and stuff."
Al'Kabor turned a murderous glare upon the gnome, "Gods strike me dead now!" His voice dripping with sarcasm and spite he ordered, "Yes Ognit, please tell me about Dartain!"
A rather large crowd of people had gathered around the group and were listening intently to the discussion. One person in particular, another Erudite, seemed very interested in what was being discussed. So interested in fact, that he was writing furiously in a small booklet apparently recording every word that was said.
Ognit said nervously, "Yes, well, this Dartain fellow was an Erudite, like you."
Noticing the anger of Al'Kabor building again upon the comparison, Ognit corrected himself. "No! I take that back! He was nothing like you actually. Not like you, uhh, he was kind of spooky though. Not like you're not scary yourself."
Ognit stopped and stammered, "Umm. I didn't mean that like it sounded. Let me start over. Ok, so this Dartain guy was an Erudite." Al'Kabor took in breath as the name was repeated and his teeth ground audibly.
Ognit laughed nervously and then said, "Yes. So he said he was trapped for a long time in the Plane of Underfoot but he seemed really happy to finally be out of there. One the bright side, he told me that The Living Wall would heal itself in time. And he said that The Hatch was still functioning properly. So everything should be ok."
Ognit smiled, "You see, no harm done! A few days and everything should be back to normal!"
Al'Kabor was utterly silent and his face expressionless. A slight twitch in the corner of his mouth was his only movement.
Ognit asked, "Al'Kabor?"
Al'Kabor raised his fist, his eyes flashing in murderous rage as he looked upon the gnome, "Now I shall end your miserable gnomish life!" Wind charged with electricity seemed to blow directly up from the ground itself and enveloped the crowd as the wizards hands began to glow with sheer power. People began to take a few tentative steps backward.
At those words, the Erudite that was writing quickly put his book in his vest pocket and interposed himself between the gnome and Al'Kabor. The Erudite shouted, "Stay your hand wizard! I shall take it from here!"
The wind subsided as the energy drained away harmlessly. Al'Kabor recognized the man that shouted and he smiled to himself. Ognit saw that it wasn't a good smile. It was a smile that told him that is may have been better to have been blasted to bits.
The man identified himself, "I am Warden Lius of Erudin. I have been following these three since this catastrophe began!" He turned to the gnome and said in a commanding voice, "Ognit Eznertob! You are hereby under arrest for the crime of treason! You have imperiled the continent of Odus and have relased unto the world a heinous criminal, the heretic of old Dartain!"
The Warden bound Ognit'shands and feet in heavy chains. "I doubt that there will be a need for a trial. By your own admission made here this day, it is evident that you are guilty. Surely it will be 'The Hollowing' for you." Pushing the gnome roughly he commanded, "Move along criminal!"
As Ognit was led away, Dagda was surprised to find tears falling from her face. She knew that Ognit was guilty, yet she was not sure if execution was the just course of punishment in this situation. As a follower of The Tribunal, she was torn between her notions of justice and her loyalty and vow to protect her two gnomish friends. Indeed, she would rather that it was she who was being led away. At least she may have had the strength to break free and perhaps escape. She knew that the physically weak gnome would have no such chance and given that the Erudites are the most experienced and schooled in the use of magic, she had no doubt they would take every precaution to prevent his casting any spell. She felt truly hopeless.
Dagda wiped her eyes and brought herself up to her full height. She asked Al'Kabor, "Who is this Dartain?"
Al'Kabor answered, "Dartain is one of the heretics. A heretic of old. He was among those that put The Hatch in place to repair the Wall of Living Stone. Through his own misfortune, he managed to get sealed on the other side of the wall in the Underfoot, while his companions were slaughtered to a man. He was able to complete the ritual from the Underfoot side and The Hatch was put in place successfullly. The Underfoot was sealed off from the rest of the world and the danger ended. Everyone assumed he was dead afterward, of course."
Dagda looked confused and stated, "He is certainly not dead. We saw him this day with our very eyes. Though he appeared pale and weak, I know that hot blood filled his veins. By what magic is he still alive after all this time?"
Al'Kabor looked up for a moment thoughtfully. He then hypothesized, "The Altered Planes are much different from our world here. It is indeed possible that by virtue of the elder magics that course throughout all of the Underfoot and the other Planes, that mortals age differently there."
Then he added, more to himself then to anyone else, "No doubt the Heretics will gain in strength with his release and I will not stand idly by while this happens. I must go and prepare. I can not allow Dartain to remain in this realm while I draw breath."
Al'Kabor stopped for a moment and stroking his chin reflectively said, "Perhaps some good will come of this. Maybe the denizens of the Underfoot will finally destroy the heretics in Paineel before The Living Wall is able to heal itself." He then walked away back through the city gates.
Dabner grabbed Dagda by the hand and cried, "Oh Dagda, what are we going to do? What about Ognit and Odus and Dartain and everything!"
Dagda was numb. "I don't know Dabner. I am at a loss and I can not think." Dagda began to walk into Qeynos through the gates leaving Dabner behind. Her sword hung limply in her hand.
"Dagda! Where are you going," he asked running after her.
She turned and facing him said, "I am returning to Toxxulia forest. I intend to fight the beasts from the earth and to try to keep them at bay until that wall is able to repair itself. Perhaps some combat will help to clear my head." Together both entered the city, making a beeline for the docks to book passage to the continent of Odus.