The mage rushes into the tower, robes of protection swirling about him in his haste. He must hurry, for the heroes will be here soon, probably to destroy him. Heroes don't go in much for explanations. The dangers of this tower are few - security has never been this wizard's worry. Now he hopes that they will be enough, at least, to slow the brave adventurers somewhat.
A wry chuckle escapes the mage - the man, no longer a youth. All the years of impotence and frustration, of begging the guilds, the schools, the societies, the temples even. All the years of searching and studying, and now he needs more time! When they were laughing at him, he craved their attention; now that he has their attention, he wishes it were elsewhere. Let them laugh, but let them let him work!
The bastard mage, they called him - both wizard and sorcerer, both noble and common. He'd had to be, or he would never have figured it out. The one person who could understand all the sides of it. Of course, it never helped that he pissed people off...venerable sages hate being told how wrong they are.
Various partitions and cages fall open as he passes, releasing various ferocious beasts and tricksome imps. No time to give them individual attention today. Well, he does pause to toss an apple to the displacer beast - in the general direction of the displacer beast - and to cast a few small safeguards, teleportations and healings and such. He doesn't approve of needless killing, even if they are only imps.
Ascending to his workshop levels, the wizard breathes a bit easier. He squares his shoulders, carefully shifting the bundle in the crook of his arm. (He had been forced to improvise, wrapping the item in his resistance cloak.) What are the odds that they would have known where to find him?
The odds indeed!
He takes what may be one last look around the rooms which have constituted his life these recent years...in more ways than one. Reams of parchment adorn the benches, the walls, the floor, themselves adorned - smothered - in the wizard's fine print. Charts, tables, statistics and numbers to make a merchant clerk's head spin. These scrolls, he thinks, are everything - every action, every decision, every conversation, recorded and compared... It can't be a coincidence.
The next room looks like an armory, only at second glance - more paper. Scraps of it, torn and stuck to swords, shields, boots, tied neatly to rings, pinned onto robes. There's a helm on a dummy over in the corner with a note stuffed in its visor: "One in twenty! Five again! Why should this head-bucket affect my spells at all? ... Note - try leather caps." From the assortment of headwear at the foot of the dummy, one can surmise that it is an old note. (One might also surmise that there is a very curious milliner somewhere in Faerun.) The walls are chalked not in mystic runes and symbols, but more charts and graphs, also some faded illusions of geometric pyramids and cubes, used as early schematics.
Then there is his bedroom - primarily composed of books, bookshelves, stacks of scrolls, a chair and a fireplace. A modest bed, not one of those four-poster monstrosities other wizards always seem to have - as though they'll ever have any company which isn't there to kill them, anyway. His familiar, a badger, is curled up on the chair, asleep. He renders Chance invisible - the badger's name is Chance - and lays a strong suggestion to avoid the chair. No reason to disturb the guy, and no wish to see him hacked to bits by an overzealous hero.
It is the top of the mage's tower that's always special. In the room at the top of this tower there are five pillars, each standing five hands tall. In the center space between the pillars - precisely where one would expect to find the painted pentagram - there is nothing; clean-swept stone.
He puts the bundle down. Wishing to waste no time, he draws a bottle from the folds of the robe. "Shaundakul, Portal-God, Who Rides the Winds - Hoar of the Three Thunders - Bring Justice. He pulls the cork, a warm wind whipping the bottle away before he can drop it. Frost rimes the first pillar.
From another pocket, four coins. He tosses them high to the sound of a resonant chime. "Tymora, Beshaba - favor the fool, and the magician." A sharper clink, and two coins return to the mage's hand. He places them upon the second pillar.
Retrieving his cloak for the third, he unwraps a pale dragon's egg. "Grandfather Dragon...Lathander Morning-Star - protect the individual, and thus the world." The egg cracks as he sets it atop the pillar, spilling a rich golden light.
Sound of forced entry float up along the walls; time is thinning. The wizard shakes, buzzes, burns with the intensity of his sorcery. He must focus to keep it from overwhelming him. The fourth pillar.
Upon the fourth pillar he casts a deep darkness. It spreads from the pillar, filling the room, walls shrinking as nothing else exists now for him but the pillars lit by their own magics. "Dead power, awake! Dark power assist Her, for the sake of secrets." A pattern of seven stars define the dark pillar.
He moves to the final pillar. A blank scroll has been there from the incantation's beginning. "Binder...Charter...Inventor...Lord of Inspiration, strike here and strike hard. Watching, he sees the scroll inked in an unfamiliar hand, describing an unfamiliar spell. Text runs across the parchment until it is covered - and the scroll is gone.
A clank behind - the heroes! No...an old man stands behind the first pillar, stands strong and straight and impassive, leaning only slightly against a greatsword, point dug into the stone. The old man nods to the pillar, and the mage sees. Sitting atop the stone, a small silver pyramid. Picking it up, he notes the numbers on each side... Four - one in four - twenty five per hundred...
Suspecting what he will find, he moves again to the second stone pillar. A golden cube, like a die. At the third, a platinum die of eight sides; at the fourth, ten sides. The ten-sided die is dark, shadow-woven, yet etched with shining silver stars. Upon the fifth, an intricately folded paper die - with twelve sides.
He holds them in his open hands like precious gems...which they are, after a fashion. He takes a deep breath; for one moment, he hesitates. Is it the only way? Is it the right way? No, it must be. Whoever they are, they cannot control us like this! I can deal with gods, but this! It must be undone, and there is no other way but exchange. It must be done. Another breath, and then he lets the dice fall...
"Magic for freedom."
Last edited by Mal Radagast; 11-23-2011 at 04:45 PM.