The Void swept the lodestone from the slab of veined black marble and threw up his arms and roared at his empty chamber, “Treacherous witch!”
His robes hissed like vipers on the bare stone floor as he paced back and forth, balled fists crossed behind his back, and he muttered to himself, murderous curses and bloody revenges, occasionally shouting out insults in his native Gandaharian, a language designed for describing the mechanics of magic, and his epithets created harmonic ripples that took form and sped outward, at the speed of light, creating changes that would inadvertently give succor to an enemy that grew stronger the closer he came to discovering the old necromancer’s secrets.
He cursed Rakasha, the banshee witch, again, for her stubbornness and bitter malice. His request had been simple. Kill the Dwarven monk and keep safe a book the corpse would be carrying. He had an agent ready to retrieve it, but dared not take any direct action against the monk just now. The blade Klemgathed carried was spirit-bound, and powerful. Okotarg’s machinations would most certainly alert the trapped ghost, and he did not need any more trouble. The dwarf traveled with a paladin who had studied as much of the forbidden teachings of Okotarg’s power as was dared deemed safe by the Silver City of Akbar.
His enemies were trapped in the domain of a banshee of incredible power. She only need use a fraction of her power to destroy them and retrieve a simple book! And she balked! Raged at Okotarg’s “intrusion” of her demesne and challenged him with threats! As if that angry ghost could do more than rage from her swampy-prison. The old elf threw his head back and laughed.
He stopped pacing and turned to his bookshelves. His eyes roamed the dangerous texts, searching for a particular one that had no business in this unnatural place. Halfway down the long wall of shelves he smiled and reached for a plain leather-bound book. Its cover was etched and stained with some plant dye, turmeric perhaps, or jackwort. Its title was written in Canpok, the workaday cant of the Canathane, a druidic sect of considerable power. It said, “Musings on Death”, and had a rather ugly looking death’s head as a frontspiece, surrounded by a circle, and the whole was stained with madder. There was no author’s credit, which was not surprising. The druids were not known for boasting, preferring to add to the order’s knowledge anonymously.
The ancient elf’s hands caressed the old book, a thin smile drifting over his face, and he cracked open the cover, opening it to a middle section, and an ink plate depicting a perfect Sigil of Binding was laid opposite the end of a lengthy discourse on the specific mechanics of telepathically controlling undead thralls. Okotarg knew it well. He had read this book hundreds of times. It was one of his dearest possessions. Inside this thick tome were a great deal of facts about the forbidden arts of necromancy. These facts were the reason that the druid order (and their allies) were so successful in combating those who used the dead to achieve their own ends. It was also the reason that Okotarg had been able to gain such immense power. He had spent his life using necromancy that specifically didn’t follow these well-worn traditions and incantations. His magic, combined with the stolen Force of Unmaking, was untraceable by normal means, and usually drained the magic reserves from any person or thing that attempted to divine or interfere with any of his conjurings.
He smiled again. His most prized possession. Without it, the Ramas of Akbar would have burned him out of his lair centuries ago. He had one last trick up his sleeve for the Canathane, too, but that little secret was not ready to play out, not yet.
But first, he needed the book that the meddling dwarf monk was carrying. It was important for Okotarg’s long-term plans, but until Klemgathed and his party moved out of the Witch’s domain, he was powerless to intervene. Things were about to get a lot worse, though, unforeseen and unexpectedly, due to a few well-spoken slanders, just minutes ago.