Listen on YouTube
Welcome to a Rescued by Dragons Tale, an extra bit of story giving a deeper look at the world of Twel and the stories that surround the brunch club. This specific Dragon’s Tale is related to episodes 26 and 27 of the Tales of the Brunch club. If you haven’t yet, it’s highly recommended you listen to those first. You can find them on Rescuedbydragons.com or wherever you normally listen to your podcasts. But for now, enjoy the Tale of Ahura Mazda.
The Journal of Ahura Mazda
The following are entries found in the Journal of Ahura Mazda, dean of the School of Conjuration in the Wizards College of Elnor, discovered by the Council of 5 During their investigation of the Murder of Lady Tiroll.
Edwin is dead. I could barely believe it when the news reached me this morning. Just yesterday we had spent hours delving into discussion of the Lan’allara elves. Some sort of magical experiment gone awry. As the dean of the college next slated for leadership, Kormir, acting as interim President, made the announcement with few details. There will be a service soon. I should prepare.
Edwin’s death was several days ago now. The service was muted, Edwin’s body wasn’t posed for viewing due to… the state of it. Apparently Kormir made all the arrangements. A little unusual, since Edwin had never been particularly close to the man. Maybe Kormir is hoping to build up goodwill. The man’s always been an ambitious climber. No doubt he has aspirations of joining the Five one day. Personally I’ve always found him a bit of an imbecile, better at shoving his nose up someone else’s ass than casting a spell.
It bothers me that no details have been released. A magical experiment gone wrong? What could Edwin have possibly been working on that was so dangerous? Edwin and I have openly shared much of our work with each other for review and insight. Collaborated for many years since he cultivated me from the poor student he first found all those years ago. Perhaps I shall ask Kormir directly. Though would that be unseemly? Perhaps I can just ask for Edwin’s personal research notes.
Kormir is no longer just dean of the college of illusion, but has officially been named President of the university. He didn’t even have the decency to keep a somber ceremony. I myself received a letter today naming me dean of the college of conjuring. Edwin had been dean of the college of conjuring, and when he had become President I’d acted informally as dean on his behalf. A new title brings me little comfort, and brings no beginnings of closure.
What is that buffoon thinking? Kormir sent me a terse written response after ignoring and avoiding me for the better part of two weeks! “The situation is too dangerous to reveal details” and “the esteemed former President’s notes have been sealed to prevent a similar occurrence”. Ridiculous! I even attempted to enter Edwin’s chambers, but they’ve been posted as “off limits” for the time being.
I broke into Edwin’s chambers tonight. Some puerile incantation had left a flimsy seal on the door. Ridiculously easy to break. Sloppy spellwork.
His chambers were a mess. Why hadn’t anyone cleaned anything up? It looked like some sort of struggle had taken place. I first thought a summoning had perhaps brought some malicious presence, but there was no evidence of that. No evidence of much really. I’m not even sure Edwin cast a spell from the look of the room. I didn’t find anything, but Zoro found a vial beneath the dresser. I’m not sure what it is, but it seems out of place. It’s an unlabeled bottle, but there’s an apothecary’s stamp. I’m unfamiliar, but I’m sure it’s easy to find. Perhaps the vial’s contents can tell me something.
It wasn’t difficult to locate the apothecary, the Hypnotic Halfling in the Granite district. In trying to locate it, I’d heard the shopkeep was a shrewd halfling woman, but was greeted by a nitwit gnome apprentice who seemed to be delving into the wares for his own personal use. It wasn’t until the owner heard my frustrations that she decided to make an appearance from the back. She was less than cooperative until I offered her a bribe. A large glowing diamond I’d conjured unseen behind my back. She revealed to me that the vial had contained something called Midnight poison though she rarely sold it due to the price. Couldn’t get more than that out of her, but researched the poison in the library. Apparently it prevents magic casting, and inhibits movement. It doesn’t kill on its own. I wish I could have stayed to see her face when that “bribe” disappeared an hour later.
I don’t know what to make of this. Could Edwin have been poisoned? But why?
I met with Kormir today. Playing the part of supplicant, I begged Kormir to allow me to review Edwin’s notes. Went on about how I thought Edwin’s personal insights to my own work must be there somewhere. How I was at his mercy if I hoped to remain as dean. Promised that I would exchange my perfect obedience for his help. I was pathetic. I was humiliated. I groveled on my knees before him. But it worked.
At his pleasure, he would allow me to review Edwin’s notes with strict supervision in his office. He’s going to mark pages and sections I cannot see “for my own safety” with the threat that should I attempt to see anything restricted, he would cast an illusion over the pages and see me removed from the university without question.
I’m unsure yet how, but I’ll see those notes in their entirety.
I’ve had Zoro take the form of an owl. He hates having wings, and it makes him a little more noticeable as a familiar, but it’s necessary, but in a city full of wizards, I’m hoping nobody took great note. He’s watched the exit of the Hypnotic Halfling from the rooftops for the last two weeks every chance we could manage. Somehow Kormir has made this far easier, as he’s already been “requesting” little favors from me since our meeting. Sending me out on trivial errands into the slate and granite district at least once a day. Typically a terrible inconvenience to my research and my duties as dean, but the hunt for information concerning Edwin has become supreme in my importance.
This afternoon I’d been sent to purchase mushroom powder from a vendor in the slate district. Supposedly Kormir has a friendly relationship with the shopkeep, but I suspect the man allows a discount for other reasons. My return to the university was a little more circuitous, and I spent several hours pursuing shops near the Hypnotic Halfling without any real purpose. But as dusk drew near, the owner exited with a basket under one arm. Discreetly we followed, Zoro overhead and I on foot. She was making her way toward the Slate District in a meandering fashion. As she slipped into a narrow and empty alley, I hid out of sight and changed my appearance into that of a half elf, though nearly a foot shorter and with a little more heft. Making my conjuration college robes look like threadbare finery. I then ran after her. She spun around just in time for me to cast charm person on her, and she quickly smiled at me in friendship.
When questioned she revealed she was on her way to sell several items to clientele that paid handsomely for direct, discrete delivery, including three vials of Midnight poison to a woman whose name she did not know. I asked her to sell the poison first, but she fearfully told me she did not dare appear before the appointed time. Instead I asked her to describe the location and woman. The shopkeep could not describe the woman with any detail, but told me how she would place the vials in an ever changing pile of refuse in the Slate district and payment would show up inside her shop the next day. She had never interacted with this particular customer since the exchange had been agreed upon. The shopkeep informed me she did not ask questions on how payment arrived at her shop, nor how the order for new vials would appear next to her bedside. I told her to give me the vials to deliver on her behalf, promising not to arrive early or late. Unfortunately she was a liability. After promising her that all her other customers told me they had canceled orders for the day, I turned her into a small cloud, dropping my guise. I told her to rise as high up into the air as she could, still charmed by my spell as she was. I think all of Elnor heard her scream a half hour later when I dropped my concentration. Even now I feel sick to my stomach for what I did, but if she hastened Edwin’s death by supplying the poison, she’s equally guilty of his murder.
I left the vials in the refuse pile as indicated after changing my appearance into the Hypnotic Halfling’s apprentice. I was noticeably taller, but stooped a great deal to try to seem shorter. Zoro took a perch nearby while I made an appearance of leaving, hiding what I hope was a prudent distance away. Hours passed, and I once again looked like myself. Crouched low in hiding, my muscles cramped, but still I waited. Nearly four hours after delivering the vials, and well into the night, Zoro spotted a nondescript figure, face concealed, covered nearly head to toe in blue-gray fabric. The figure lithely made for the refuse pile, pulled something from it in one swift motion after a momentary rummaging, then dashed into the distance. Zoro took flight in pursuit, while I tried my best to keep up without giving myself away. But the figure was fast. As I ran I cast forth an arcane eye in the air above me, and bid it pursue the figure from overhead with Zoro’s movement now limited by failings of the flesh. The figure must have heard pursuit, as the path taken was bizarre in the extreme, but still the eye followed noiselessly above. I stayed tucked in a doorway, with Zoro watching over me, focusing my mind upon the eye and its pursuit. At long last the figure arrived in the Crystal district, at a palatial villa. The figure slipped inside, unseen by the guards. The eye hovered above, sweeping its gaze in all directions before vanishing from sight as my spell was forced to end.
Zoro and I hurried to the villa, saving time by cutting out the labyrinthine route of the figure. When we arrived, I bid Zoro away with a wave of my hand, and watched the villa from a safe distance. I recognized this as the Tiroll villa. Edwin had had dealings with Lord Tiroll before. Tiroll had been a student at the university in his youth, but rested largely upon his large inherited fortune, and didn’t much but dabble in spellcraft most of the time. He had died around the same time as Edwin. Some accident on the roads outside Elnor.
Nothing seemed amiss within the estate, and the figure could have been gone by then, but I had to see inside. I cast a spell to make myself invisible, and quietly walked right past the guards. Inside was quiet, being late most servants seemed to be asleep. I moved quickly from room to room, seeing nothing of note on the first or second floors. On the third floor I was startled by the near silent widow Tiroll making her way down the third flight of stairs. She was dressed in the same blue-gray attire as the figure from before, face now uncovered. I swiftly backed to the wall, but elbowed a hideous jade figurine on a pedestal, sending it crashing to the floor where it shattered. Lady Tiroll stopped sharply and stared intently at what had been the figurine. She scanned the hallway with quick darts of her eyes, then withdrew a dagger concealed somewhere on her person and threw it into the wall on the side of the pedestal opposite to me.
I barely had time to register the dagger when she was already bounding to the figurine, screeching for her guards, a dagger now in each hand seeming to materialize from nowhere. I moved as quickly as I dared down the hall, facing her at all times. She continued to scream for the guards as she reached the figurine and began to wildly swipe and stab the air around her. Despite the wildness of her actions, her movements were fluid and practiced attacks. By now I could hear her guards rushing up the first flight of stairs, and with their own noise as cover, I fully ran down the hallway. I turned a corner and continued running, by now servants were rousing as their mistress screamed of an intruder. I kept running until I hit a dead end, then dared to open the door at the end and slip inside.
It was poorly lit, but I’d managed to find my way into what appeared to be the lady’s personal chambers. It was full of finery and decor that spewed excess. I swept my eyes over the room and saw a balcony. I made for the balcony, but hesitated. I reasoned that if I stole something, she might think this simply a burglary, with a thief able to get his hands upon a potion of invisibility. Glancing around, a dull glint caught my eye from across the room. I shoved a handful of jewels into my pocket, the apparent centerpiece on display a gaudy gold necklace with a large ruby set in its center. I made for the balcony and looked below. All around the estate was alive with activity as guards swept the grounds in addition to the interior. There was no way to descend, and even had I been able to, without question the guard would have discovered me. I dashed inside and made for her bed. I tore open the corner of her goose-down mattress, and extracted a single feather. I could hear commotion in the hallway, and dashed back to the balcony. I cast fly upon myself, and as I became visible once more took flight into the air. When I was just out of sight I heard the door to Tiroll’s chamber explode inward, and heard the cries of ‘thief’ as I rose even higher.
I flew a safe distance away, and walked back to the university. I found it difficult to fall asleep when I returned. How was Lady Tiroll tied to Edwin’s death? She certainly seems more than a rich widow.
This morning when I apologized for not bringing Kormir his mushroom powder yesterday, he’d entirely forgotten he had ever sent me.
Kormir has allowed me to review Edwin’s notes several times in the last month. He scrutinizes my every movement, eyes boring into me as though he might divine something of my true intent. I scribble arbitrary notes of my own that I copy from Edwin’s. Nothing of any particular importance, just to prevent Kormir’s suspicion. After about fifteen minutes, he declares that he has no more time left for my review, and takes Edwin’s notes, where he stores them in an enchanted safe. He reads my own notes, then dismisses me after I’ve made the appropriate display of subservient gratitude.
I’m ever grateful to Zoro, as this plan was of his own design. It’s practically illegal to write this down (or even think it!) but I must be blessed to have so clever a familiar. This evening after I brought Kormir saffron as a “favor” he allowed me to examine Edwin’s notes yet again. I set Zoro on the floor, as had become our tendency since Zoro hatched this plan, and began to jot down notes I had already written before. Several minutes in, I tipped Edwin’s notebook too far toward me, and the entire thing toppled to the floor.
Kormir sprung up from his chair and began to scream at me. Calling me idiot this, and clumsy that. I made a show of obeisant apology as I bent below the desk. As I straightened myself up and continued my apology to Kormir, I brought forth Edwin’s notebook from below the desk, it suddenly emanated a soft, magical glow. I stopped mid apology and gaped at it, as did Kormir. He snatched it from my hands and as he was about to open its pages the entire thing disappeared. Kormir let out an astonished gurgle, then ordered me to stand up against the wall. I obliged, and he suddenly cast a hold person spell on me. I didn’t resist. He frantically searched below the desk, and then hurried to myself, where he patted me down, and performed an uncomfortable search of my robes. In earnest astonishment at that I asked what he was doing. He was completely flummoxed, but dropped his spell when he was certain the notes were not on my person. He screamed at me to leave and ordered me not to speak a word of this. I made a hasty retreat with what I hoped was a sincere sounding apology. I don’t think he noticed Zoro was no longer with me.
When I returned to my chambers, I summoned Zoro back, notebook gripped firmly in his little mouth. When the notebook had fallen, Zoro had gripped it in his mouth and I dismissed him, notebook and all. I’d conjured forth an exact replica that I dismissed when Kormir went to open it. The glow should have been a give away, but perhaps Kormir will think Edwin had imbibed it with some magic of his own devising, and now it’s vanished. I’m sending the notebook back with Zoro for now. For safekeeping.
As expected Kormir had my chamber searched. Twice. In the past week I’ve continued to go about life as usual. Though nobody should be able to scry on someone within the walls of the university, I’ve added protections to my own chambers to keep away prying eyes. And in the dead of night, I have studied Edwin’s notes.
Apparently he was working with Lord Tiroll on making a planar gateway! Not just a single new gateway, but the ability to create new gateways anywhere in the world. I can hardly believe what I’ve read! Kormir must have read through this by now. Fortunately it seems a crucial page or two is missing, as the final details are absent from his notes. It seems Edwin was the real brains behind the idea, and Tiroll helped to provide the expensive materials needed in experimentation. Perhaps Kormir works even now to try and find the missing pieces.
It’s been over a month since the notebook incident with Kormir. He’s finally begun sending me on errands again. I’ve used the opportunities to slip out of the city on occasion, and over time have hidden the jewels I stole in various areas outside the city to be rid of them.
Last night Kormir sent me to a gala in his stead. He’s been spending increased time in research of late. I tried to stay unobtrusive in the back, but it’s impossible to avoid the mindless chatter of the city’s upper crust. Lord Windsor weaseled his way over to me, asking where Kormir was. He started pointing out various people around the room, telling me their most scandalous details. As he whirred on, my eyes came to rest upon the widow Tiroll, dressed rather mutedly, though still dressed in relatively resplendent clothing.
Lord Windsor caught my eye, and commented. He went on about how she deeply loved her late husband’s gold. And while the lady was a beautiful woman, apparently Lord Tiroll often found himself at the Jade Serpent. He was known for refusing to take off jewelry, especially a ring he had some superstitious attachment toward. The very same ring that the lady now wore, he noted, going on to say that anything of value her husband owned was, in her mind, hers alone. He prattled on for a while, then it struck me that she wore her husband’s ring.
I asked Windsor how Lord Tiroll had died. A highway accident of some kind. A robbery gone poorly, which led Windsor to go on about the poor safety on the roads outside the city. He rolled around the subject, but eventually divulged more. That the robbery was all speculation, as while his wagon and entourage appeared to have been attacked, they had never found a single body.
But if no body was ever found, then how did the widow Tiroll come to wear the ring to which Lord Tiroll was apparently so attached?
When I returned from the party, I reviewed Edwin’s notes again. His final entry detailed immediate steps to take in his experimentation, with plans to meet with Lord Tiroll in his chambers that evening. They were set to meet the evening Edwin died.
I entered the Port district tonight. I changed my appearance to a half elf once more, and made discreet inquiries regarding what to do if I needed someone “dealt with”. I had to renew my illusion twice, the final time becoming a frazzled looking version of Kormir on a hunch, but inquiries led me to a tavern called the Sloping Sailor. I was directed to a man in the back. He seemed obliging, and gifted me a knowing wink. He asked who I wanted dead this time. I described myself.
He grew quiet and told me he could set up a contract with the Varjo again. She was the only person he would trust to kill high placed wizards. He went on to say her “midnight magic” would stop any spellcasting in its tracks. I didn’t need to hear any more. Considering the rarity of Midnight poison, and everything I’d seen with lady Tiroll, there could be no other culprit. And Kormir had paid for Edwin’s death. Maybe Kormir just wanted to become President. Maybe he knew of the research. It didn’t matter. And this person was some sort of broker.
I shot upright and pointed my finger at him. I disintegrated him right then and there, then made a hasty retreat from the tavern, dropping my guise as soon as I could secret myself.
It’s clear to me now. Kormir paid for Edwin’s death, and Lord Tiroll was murdered alongside him. Perhaps that was Eloise Tiroll’s intention when she chose when and where to murder Edwin. Maybe it was simply a happy coincidence for her. Kormir arranged to have Edwin’s murder covered up and who knows what he arranged for Lord Tiroll’s corpse. I could go to the Five with this, but the city is corrupt enough neither might ever face justice. No, Kormir is well placed enough at the college he could deny this. And the Five would probably have a hard time believing a rich widow would be a devious assassin.
I’ll bide my time. Strike when the moment is right. I’ll punish Eloise Tiroll for this myself, and if it’s public enough the Five cannot ignore Kormir’s role in all this. They will be forced to investigate the matter themselves. Some public event then. Zoro has pointed out to me a public event could go poorly, that I could be quickly overwhelmed. Best it be one of the ridiculous galas the elite throw since most of them are harmless. But just in case, I should obtain something to aid me if needed. Something powerful. Zoro has suggested I steal from the university’s museum of relics. He suggests the Rod of Rulership.
This has been a Rescued by Dragons Tale, giving you a deeper look into the world of Twel and the stories surrounding The Brunch Club. This Dragon’s Tale was written by Billy Chase and read by Brian Messmer. If you liked it, we’d appreciate it if you shared it with friends. If you want more content from Rescued by Dragons you can find it on our website Rescuedbydragons.com. You can also follow us on Instagram @rescuedbydragons or on twitter @rescuedragons. Thank you for listening and be sure to tune in every weekend to stay up to date on the tales of The Brunch Club.