Might and Magic IV

You and a small circle of friends have gathered at a local Tavern in Vertigo to discuss the events of the last several months. Your conversation bobs and weaves among subjects in between draughts of ale, but the central topic is the vivid, recurring dreams you all shared starting eight months ago. The first dream arrived as a nightmare, frightening in its clarity and intensity. You all dreamt that you were listening to King Burlock’s adviser, Crodo, speak to you. It was as though he was talking from a
great distance, and the message seemed to have been addressed to someone else:

This message is not a dream. I am sorry to trouble your sleep in this manner, but I have no other way to communicate with you. A few months ago, a man claiming to be King Burlock’s lost brother, Roland, arrived in court and announced himself to the King. Roland had left on a mission into Mount Firestone many years ago, looking for the passage to the Fabled “Land below the Land”. That Roland should return home after all these years was very good news for the King, but I had my reservations. Where had he been all this time, and why hadn’t he come home sooner ?
Suspicious of him from the first, I watched him tell tales of ancient treasures and works of power. The artifact that Roland talked most about was the Sixth Mirror. The Sixth Mirror was the only magic mirror that was made to be portable, and because of this it had no name. The owner of the Mirror was able to step through it just like the other five Mirrors, but he could take this one with him. That Roland was obsessed with the Mirror became increasingly clear with time, but the King did not seem to notice. Rather, King Burlock began to finance expeditions to find the lost mirror. Many brave and powerful adventurers answered the call, but none succeeded. In spite of repeated failures, Roland urged the King to continue the search.

As the search grew more feverish, King Burlock began to neglect his management of the realm. The King’s health deteriorated, the servants grew lax in their duties, and the treasury ran dangerously low. I felt that I had to do something and do it soon. I resolved to sleep on it and speak to the King in the morning. That very night I awoke to the chill kiss of dark magic being worked nearby. Rising to my feet, I gathered my robe about me and quietly walked into the hallway. From there I was able to hear muffled sounds coming from Roland’s room. Cautiously, I crept up to Roland’s room and looked through the keyhole. To my horror, I saw Roland sitting cross-legged, holding a black tome in one hand. From a charcoal diagram on the floor arose the image of a foul spirit in the shape of a knight with horns cresting his helm. Roland was conversing with it in a harsh tongue that I did not recognize.
I must have made some sound then, for Roland abruptly turned and stared hard at the door. I backed away from the keyhole immediately, and it is well that I did, for the door suddenly blew off its hinges and slammed against the opposite wall. Fearing for my life, I ran. I ran as fast as my old bones would take me, ran as though the forces of Hell were at my heels.

They were. As I rounded the first corner of the hallway, screaming for help, the chill blast of Roland’s winter magic narrowly missed me. We ran through the twisting halls of Burlock’s castle, through rooms dusty with disuse and through armories filled with rusting war tools. I took a turn and found myself cornered at the end of a hallway with no means of escape. In despair I turned to face Roland and raised my magical defenses, knowing that he was stronger than I. Roland came charging around the corner and slowed down when he saw that I was cornered. Raising his hands above his head in preparation of a sorcerous strike, Roland smiled and said, “What’s the matter, Crodo? Are you afraid of what you saw?” Roland continued to approach me slowly. “Feeble old man, your fear of magic you don’t understand is a discredit to our profession.”
“I understand your evil magic well, Roland.” I said hopelessly, slumping my shoulders and bowing my head. “I can’t hope to win against such strength.” With that I sighed, gathering my energies for one good blast. I looked up at Roland, who was still smiling and advancing, sighed again, and threw my spell. The force of the dancing blades spell flying from me pushed me back against the wall.

Caught off guard, Roland failed to deflect the spell. The blades flew out from my hands, stripping the flesh from his body. Hope rose within me when I saw what I had done to him, then despair when he still stood after the attack. Scraps of flesh clung to his grinning skull, and his one remaining eye glared at me. I knew then that Roland was Undead, and that I could not defeat him.
“Who are you?” I gasped, staring at the figure before me.
“Lord Xeen,” the Monster said. “Call me Lord Xeen, King of the World,
for that is what I shall be in a very short time!”
“King Burlock—,” I began.
“Will do as he is told,” Xeen finished for me. “Especially if he doesn’t have YOU around to give him bad advice.”
There was nothing more to be said. Xeen made a peculiar gesture with his right hand and then clenched his fist. I felt a pressure on my defenses and on my head which quickly grew intolerable. The blackness took me and I knew no more. When I awoke, I found myself in a tower on an island surrounded by water. From my window I am able to see King Burlock’s castle across the water. Every day I see the search parties leaving the castle to look for the mirror and wonder if the King knows what ‘Roland’ is, or where I am. There is only one place in the world with a view like I have, and that is Baron Darzog’s Tower. Because of the materials used to construct the room I am in, I am unable to use my magic to escape. The only thing I can do is try to send these dreams to you in hopes that you will hear and respond. I don’t know what Lord Xeen wants the mirror for, but it can’t be good. I fear the ruin of the realm if he succeeds. You are the only people in the world with the power and resources to make a weapon capable of slaying Lord Xeen in your laboratories in Newcastle. You must make haste. If Lord Xeen discovers what you are doing he will destroy you.

With that, the dream ends. This dream had been repeated several times for about two months, then never again. The day after you had your last dream, Newcastle was destroyed by a bolt from the sky, and all its inhabitants were killed. Each one of you realized that you may be the only person left alive who received the message. If you didn’t do anything, nobody would. So you quit your jobs and traveled to Vertigo with your life savings. Here you were able to find training in spells and weapons, and here you met one another. You talk late into the night, excitement and nervousness in your voices. As the conversation winds down and you all are getting ready to retire for the night, you agree that tomorrow is the day you will start your adventures.