Book Two: The Lone and Level Land
CHAPTER ONE:
“We Came, We Saw, We Rocked...”
Berrona Umberselunday

An account by Thalazzar

Revelations in the Zeppelin

The gentle hum of the Daisy Cutter reminded Thalazzar vaguely of the devices that had whirred in the depths of the Khi’Ganad. The difference here was that these devices were gnomish in origin and intended to keep this ship in the sky, whereas his former masters’ machines were decidedly nastier in their intent. Kobolds and gnomes were similar in some ways, thought the wizard, and yet so different at the same time. He was not yet comfortable with them, particularly surrounded as he was by Sparks Kantakerin and his gnomish kin on their flying machine, but he recognized that the outright hatred demonstrated by Dragana, his Khi’Gujtuppto servant, was a little dramatic. Thalazzar now knew more about gnomes and despite their irritating banter, tendency to carry diseases like Jungle Rot, and suspicious behaviour, the gnome that had traveled with him the past few weeks had been valuable on a few occasions. Whereas before Thalazzar would not thought twice about killing a gnome, his newfound knowledge on their customs gave him pause when Dragana demanded to rip out his companions entrails and drink her blood.

This Kantakerin fellow had been greatly useful and his flying ship might prove even more useful still to Thalazzar and his companions. He had provided an overwhelming amount of information that had confirmed the many threats facing them, and a few more that they hadn’t thought of! His account of the final trial of Domaldi had saddened Thalazzar. He hadn’t known him very long but his valor had been impressive, even if it had been the death of him.

More interesting were the bits of information about his companions and this "Sub-Inquisitor Quinn" of the Unspoken. Apparently, there had been more to their irritating gnome companion that had met the eye and she had some connections with the Unspoken. And that they too were greatly interested in them. The gnomes apparently were attempting to decipher some sort of new, powerful weapon given to the Brutes by the Feraln Elves, some type of “lead-launcher” that had turned the tide of their offensive. While the gnome had relayed nothing about the identity of “the client” and his “special operatives”, he had said nothing to suggest that Thalazzar’s previous thoughts on that threat were incorrect. It was possible that the client could even be the same person as one of the many other individuals who wanted them dead.

Woden, it seemed, was mistrusted by more than just Thalazzar and his companions. Apparently he had been not seen as much of late in Riot’s Gate and it was rumoured that he had been in Cauldron very recently. Perhaps he was arranging for elemental beings to threaten his pawns, thought the wizard. Thalazzar trusted Woden even less after talking to the gnomes. With him, the group would need to proceed cautiously.

While Thalazzar had considered Maghnus Mor, the wizard had not understood much about him. Between Kantakerin and talking to people in Cauldron, Mor’s role seemed that much more ominous, particularly since he had now decided that he too held something against the wizard and his companions. Stories about Maghnus Mor negotiating with Gallant for surrender of the last Orindish stronghold on the Island of Cyr did not sound like something the perceived last remaining heir to the Orindish throne would do. Thalazzar wondered what role Tallim played in this. If Tallim somehow jeopardized Mor’s claim to the throne, negotiations with Gallant, campaign for a seat in the Federation Senate or support from the Landholder’s Bloc, it might make sense for him to want her to disappear. It was very suspicious considering that Mor had previously lobbied for the Federation to support the war against the God King. It was also suspicious as, like Woden, Mor had been rumoured to be traveling south to Cauldron even as far as the Wall of the Righteous. Thalazzar smelled a traitor and an enemy.

The situation with Lokiyar, the Keepers and the Church of Heironeous was another issue, but one that Thalazzar understood less. All he needed to understand was that all of them were potential threats. Their treatment of Domaldi and role in the conflict with the Brutes was suspicious. Lokiyar seemed to have an agenda, and that agenda was not likely something positive. The only positive note was that Maghnus Mor and Lokiyar may be at odds with each other. With the current state of magic and the preoccupation of the deities, Thalazzar didn’t trust any of them. It was ironic that Kurtulmak, a devious and hateful god by human standards, was at least understandable compared to the gods of man whose faction’s slaughter each other and loose their minds in the name of “goodness”. Thalazzar did not consider himself to be overly religious, in fact when he prayed it was more about hoping his god did not eat him, but neither did he have any desire to explore the crazy faiths of man.

That said, there seemed a good chance that the Dream of Horrors was related to this Prophecy of St. Cuthbert and the mysterious Red Rider may have been the god himself, albeit a god who had apparently lost his mind. Perhaps their shared experience had been the irrational desire of a mad god determined to make them his tools? Did this mad god want them to fight the One on his behalf? Again more questions instead of answers and Tallim remained the missing piece of the puzzle. At the very least, this prophecy was further evidence that the power behind the Dream of Horrors truly existed. Perhaps it was a manifestation of the One if that was who the mad god fought? Despite his confusion and private misgivings against their faith, Thalazzar did note that the emissary of St. Cuthbert at least believed enough in his tale to offer them powerful gifts. The wizard hoped for an arcane magic staff to replace Kalthanalas, his powerful druidic item which he had parted with only because he could not unlock its secrets.

Perhaps most importantly, Thalazzar’s thoughts returned again to the question of the One. His studies of the Last Book had been informative but he still had much to learn, particularly about their way of magic. What he had learned from the gnomes was that others believed what Thalazzar had grown to suspect, that his namesake may have been indeed one of the Thala Mourne, descended of the Seventeen and one of the ruling wizard-priests of the Order. His questions about the events in the Temple of Sss’rast and Last Martyr of the Seventeen were unanswered, but perhaps when prey confronted hunter, more answers would be revealed.

With the most sensitive part of his past laid bare on the table for all to see, Thalazzar had finally told his companions the secret of his identity. He told them that he had been the humble slave of a kobold tribe and that he had escaped bondage only when a powerful wizard had met his end in the lair of his masters. He told his companions how he had stolen what he thought was the wizard’s identity and taken the name “Thalazzar” not knowing that, in fact, it likely had been Thala Xevar. He had told them all of these things so that they understood at least one of threats to their quest, particularly as that quest would lead into the Order. And perhaps his secret did not matter anymore anyways. He had stolen the wrong name and no one could now claim his identity but him. He was no longer Unj’Kaltigmag uv Khi’Ganad, former kobold slave, nor was he Thala Xevar, slain wizard-priest of the Monotheocratic Order. Strangely, the wizard was no longer afraid of his past, particularly since his claim to being a powerful wizard was hollow no more. He was Thalazzar the Conjuror and his name, his own name, would be attached to events that were shaking the roots of Sentar.

The next morning, Thalazzar rose early and left the Uncle Ogre’s Monocle to finalizing his business with Nulzdindantilus. Having completed his business and returned the gold to his companions, the wizard undertook to make one final stop in Cauldron. Seeking to exploit his past mercenary contacts, the wizard had sought out a member of House Golgadin. He had learned that Ivindof Golgadin, the younger brother and business partner of Baron Mastof, had been spending his days at the Gwuzbuloolpip Steam Hall on the shore of Cauldron Pond. The “Gwuz” was a local private bathhouse for Dakare elite where hot, lava-heated water cascaded down the slopes of Cauldron and from intricate, carved fountains, showering over the rich and famous. It was named for an infamous steam mephit who had lorded over the mephits of the Cauldron volcano when it had been active hundreds of years ago. Today it was filled with Dakare’s best, escaping the pressures of dealing with t