Some of your party were exposed to a powdery green mold
As the mold clears you look upon one of the crumbled stone archways that line the hallway, and in the half-light it seems that it’s not an archway at all, but rather a door, a perfect wooden door fitted into an undamaged stone arch, and half-thinking, in the din of battle, you reach down and twist the solid brass door pull. It swings free.
The room inside is warm, and the theme of restoration continues with the sturdy stone walls complete around a turret office, the grilles letting through thick beams of summer sun. You gaze into the room, seeing the walls lined with bookshelves, each shelf packed with volumes in no clear order or sets. Books are laid on top of the books on each shelf, wedged in as if the owner of the office was often abstracted when he put his books away.
At the center of the hexagonal room is a highly polished stone desk, the visible parts of the marble top are thick with books, vials, notebooks, inkpots, and a variety of research gear. At one corner, there is a plate of sandwiches with one half-munched. Sitting on the opposite corner are a pair of boots, caked with what appear to be fresh mud, with a bottle of wine nestled in one.
Hello there, says the man seated at the desk. It is with a start that you look at the face between the clutter, the room seeming so quiet only moments before. It looks a human face, the beard close-cropped and the eyes bright. A young man, or not so old that it yet shows.
Hello he repeats
I see you’ve found my doorway. From the look of you your more likely from after me than before. Were you walking in a glade when you came upon the door? loooking like a bower that curved oddly until you got close and really looked? no? The ruin then I’m sure, and doubtless home to many a fell thing. May I ask your name?
And how did your parents meet?
Olo, are you walking with the people of stone walls now? have they made you kill an animal yet?
he laughs heartily
well well welcome welcome. You’ve only got about an hour here with me, but don’t worry, your friends and enemies will barely known you’ve gone. Not because you won’t be missed, but the beats will pass differently here than there. My name is Faisul, and the door you walked through was my own construction. The dwarves of this monastery were kind enough to let me come here for isolation and better concentration on my studies, also they can produce a few mineral salts of unrivaled purity absolutely vital for certain scrying rituals.
I won’t bore you, as I must admit the dwarves here bore me. It’s not all dwarves, mind you, he says, seeing your face, just that these ones, with their slavish worship of Torag and all their talk of constancy of providence and how every good thingthat happens to each of them must be the work of Torag, although for all they get up to, it seems their god must not run far beyond an extra mushroom left here and there.
One complaint I must admit to is that not one of the buggers is allowed a single game of chance. No not one turn of the card or a hand of pekay
should you join me in a game? excellent. Faisul lifts his hand palm up with the fingers outstretched and blows upon it. As if shot from a cannon all the clutter on the tables flies onto the shelves, into drawers, and one inkpot goes screaming right out the window. Only the boots and sandwiches remain
Bonejaw gorges on on the sandwiches on offer
And stakes? let me offer up this potion. With your current injuries I wouldn’t be surprised if you’d like a tot right now.
Landon puts up a bottle of wine.
The game is simple, two dice, thrown into a cup and cast, the first cast, Landon picks even:
Five and Two
too bad, another?
Landon offers the masterwork stonecutter’s tools, the dice are cast, and he picks odd
Four and two
At this moment Bonejaw rises from the table, waving his fists over his head. Cheater! the dice change every other time and you know it so
Oh Bonejaw, may I ask you something? Do you know much of animals? Have you considered the squirrel in its hole? the bison on the plans? have you thought of the cat? Before I take my leave, as I see I must quite soon
… and as he says these words you hear the animals outside grow a little louder, though strange, stretched…..
May I ask you if you know of the ethical system, first put down by the lost Granprussians, so popular in my day and doubtless in yours, that divides all people, all worldviews, and indeed all actions, into one of four, or at best six categories? obedient or disobedient to society or ‘the law’, and the into good or evil?
May I ask you what you would think of a fox in the snow? A fox that has escaped death but too near? What might you say to that fox, if one paw was gone, and though the snow numb the stump, still it can no more than half limp, leaving a thin, weak stain, knowing that it must be pursued. If that fox had a choice, if that fox could trade something to change the circumstances of its game, into what category would you place that Fox?
When we meet again, says Faisul, as the room grows dark like a cloud had covered the sun, I do ask that you will consider the fox in the snow!
and with a thunderclap, the room is returned to empty rubble. The books gone, the glass smashed, the shelves torn down for firewood long ago