Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Moruk's Charm

Not every story in Valtyr Chronciles involves a reluctant hero embarking a quest to save his homeland from disaster, or the discovery of ancient magic, or even the rescue of a damsel in distress. Some stories are just about normal people who end up doing unusual things by accident. The story of Moruk is one such tale.

In the present Age – the Age of Trials as many call it – Moruk was a cerenoth in service to a human sorcerer named Talos Lindergaard, whom he owed a debt for saving his life. The cerenoth had been involved in a fight with an elder chimera just outside of the town of Jarras in Rynell when the creature had delivered a near fatal wound. It was all Moruk could do fend the great beast off, when out of nowhere great surges of lightning struck out from the air and killed the chimera instantly. Moruk looked back into the smug face of an approaching older man in brown robes. His pride wounded, Moruk was infuriated with the meddling sorcerer, who had stolen his glorious death by intervening. Talos was at first overcome with shock at the Cerenoth’s agitation, but quickly dismissed the raging Moruk as “more than half mad, and much too concerned with his own death to make any sense.”

That would have been the end of it, but Moruk knew that he could not allow his pride to suffer further indignation. Following the age-old Cerenoth adage “a scale for a scale”, he pledged his life to the sorcerer until such time that he could repay his debt and save Talos’s life in turn. Being a shrewd man, Talos saw great promise in this and agreed to Moruk’s proposition. He asked Moruk to accompany him to the whispering town of Myzzen where he sought out fellow “comrades” he needed to speak with. Moruk was not too happy about a trek that far west, for the route would take nearly a week of travel through some inhospitable terrain. But he had promised the sorcerer and the word of a Cerenoth is always something of value.

For days they traveled over broken plains, across rocky fields and through small copses of unnamed woods until finally they reached the main coastal road and turned south to Myzzen. All the while Moruk endured the lectures and self-important speeches that Talos prattled on and on about as they neared their destination. There did not seem to be a rodent, bird, plant, or rock that Talos was not an expert on. Time crawled and Moruk wished only to see a battle unfold so that he could fulfill his promise and leave the talkative human to his own company. But, alas, not a single threat (other than boredom) assaulted the two as they went about their way.

When they finally reached the walls of Myzzen, Talos bid Moruk to stay outside a two-story herbalist shop while he conducted his “business”. The sorcerer entered and was gone a long time before finally returning once more. He seemed pleased with whatever had transpired and he made his way to another stop, a local sorcerer’s shop, where he had “friends that could lend him what he needed.” Sighing heavily, Moruk continued on, but did not have to travel far before they arrived at the place.

This time Talos asked Moruk to enter with him and make a show of being his bodyguard. Moruk was about to refuse, but Talos explained that inside was a danger greater than most. Moruk was curious and hoped for a way to free himself of his debt. He agreed and the two entered the cluttered shop.

Inside, bottles, beakers and vials of dust sat in shelves filled with strange tools and books. A spicy odor lingered on the air and Talos moved quickly towards a large, fat man behind a counter with rimmed glasses and several piercings in his ears and nose. Not seeing any sign of danger, Moruk felt betrayed by Talos’s lie and began to wander about the shop. The two men were deep in conversation over a bag of gems that Talos had withdrawn from his robes and did not notice it when the Cerenoth accidentally knocked a large beaker filled with a bronze sludge into a case with a jeweled beetle necklace and a row of fine yellow powder. Moruk tried to stop the beaker from spilling but he wasn’t fast enough. The container hit the dust and beetle charm with a solid crash and the liquid spilled everywhere.

The two men had enough time to look up in surprise as a cloud of gas started to bubble and grow from the mixture of dust and sludge. A great clicking noise issued from the cloud and Moruk backed away hastily, grabbing his large bladed-axe he kept close at hand.

From out of the cloud sprang a giant replica of the beetle, except that it was covered in a shifting bronze texture that resembled treated glass. The beetle sprang out and Moruk dodged to the side, striking out with his axe. If the creature felt the blow, it didn’t register it. Instead it headed straight for the two men at the counter.

Thinking fast Talos lashed out with a spell that sent a dizzying series of electrical bolts spinning into the animated beetle, but it only seemed to aggravate the creature further. The beetle grabbed the sorcerer by the leg and flung him bodily into a series of bookshelves. Moruk was quick to drag the man free from the creature’s next attack and this time delivered a crushing blow to the beast’s head. With a whimper and a sudden tick, tick, tick, the creature shrunk impossibly small and fell to the ground as a lifeless bronze beetle of normal size.

Aghast at the damage, the owner shooed Moruk and Talos out and threatened to call the guards if they did not leave immediately. In addition, he savagely kicked the beetle at Moruk, which spun up into the air and landed in the cobble-stoned outside the shop. Talos hurried away, calling after Moruk to follow him, lest the guards come and “truly make this day even worse.” Moruk only smiled, for he had done as he had promised and no longer was bound to aid the talkative sorcerer. The beetle would surely have killed him if Moruk had not intervened. At least, that’s what the Cerenoth told himself and who knew…it might have even been true. Bending down, he grasped the bronze beetle and put it in his pack. Not really caring if there was more surprise to be found, Moruk could think of only one thing: the beetle had saved him from his debt and he was free once more.

Moruk left Talos sputtering in anger and watched as the sorcerer dashed down a street and vanish around a bend. Fingering the beetle, Moruk threaded it through a piece of leather and placed it around him neck, calling it his “good luck charm” from sorcerers everywhere. Then he turned and was gone, only to show up years later with quite a few more “beetle charms”. He had found he possessed the talent to wield alchemy and put those gifts to good use, manufacturing more of his “good luck charms” for those with the funds to pay for them. These days it seems everyone in Rynell has either owned one of Moruk’s famous charms or at least knew someone who had.

Moruk’s Charm
Type: Alchemical amulet

Description: bronze beetle charm for a necklace with the letter M inscribed on the back

Powers: grants its wearer +3 dice to Cunning Fate and can avoid one Disaster per game

Special Cerneoth Power: if the wearer is a Cerneoth, the charm can also animate into a larger version of itself once per week upon speaking the command word “ezkara”, which means “freedom” in Draconic. The beetle has the following stats and persists until destroyed or 3 rounds go by, whichever comes first:

Battle: 7
Damage: 1D6
Evasion: 3 (SR 2)
Resistance: 4 (SR 4)
Health: 20

Passive Powers:
Void Voss: if a spell has a Miss Effect, ignore it when cast on Moruk’s Beetle

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