At once, Eldon realized he had made a mistake. The kobolds reached the ‘altar’ and lifted the top off of it. While it was difficult to make out, a silhouetted creature began to stand up from the what was now seen to be a sarcophagus. A gust of wind filled the chantry and the fog and cloud kill dissipated as they were blown through a ventilation hole in the walls.
“Dr. Eldon Woschren, to what do I owe the honor of having such a distinguished lecturer in my home?” The few remaining kobolds stopped upon hearing the voice, turned to the speaker and bowed reverently.
Even after two decades, Eldon recognized the voice, if not the face, of Father Ander Lackman. When he and Nissa had settled down and begun to teach to at the academy, Eldon had met an unlikely research companion in the library. While they had each been working on separate research, it was uncommon to see a clergyman in the library studying. As such, Eldon had sought out Ander in order to see why he was there.
It had turned out, that Ander was a cleric of Chemosh, the god of undeath. While, such a cleric wouldn’t be welcomed by the average townsfolk, the academy kept its doors open to that wished to work in the scholarly areas. The seminary found occasional use of necromantic magic, in particular when trying to determine causes of death or, while it rarely occurred, when tasked with healing undead.
Ander was charged with such circumstances at the academy. In this charge, he had taken it upon himself to research arcane spells that would aid in such efforts. While he personally was able to cast such spells, he theorized that if he could procure the aid of a wizard or sorcerer, he could use the combinations of arcane and divine spells in order to provide a more complete approach to his work.
Eldon had met him at this point in his research, and Ander took to having the company. While Ander was intelligent for a clergyman, he lacked much of the basic understanding of arcane spell casting. There was a significant difference between allowing the power of his god to flow through him and having to manifest the power himself to cast spells. Therefore, he would ask Eldon to explain when he reached points in his research that he couldn’t quite grasp.
Over time, Ander had indeed developed the ability to cast some arcane cantrips and low difficulty spells. It was at this point that he began to get himself into trouble. While Ander was a strict adherent of laws and regulations, he also held that his duty to Chemosh held precedent over the rules of the academy. In this pursuit, he attempted to apply his research to actual use and began experimenting on the dead that were brought to the university. This quickly outraged the rest of the clergy at the school, and Ander found himself exiled from the academy.
While Eldon had made no attempt to keep up with Ander after this, he had heard Ander had died at the hands of an undead creature he was studying. Eldon, now assumed these rumors were very likely true. However, the rumors missed the fact that this creature was likely a vampire, leaving Ander undead instead of dead.
These memories had come rushing back into Eldon’s head, so there was only a brief pause before he said, “Father Ander Lackman, I did not expect to find you here either. I was under the impression you had died, although, I suppose you did.”
“Indeed I did. The life of a human is exceedingly short, so I was reborn in the favor of Chemosh and shall now live forever in this form. But again why are you here?”
“It seems your kobolds have stolen a text, Delayed blast fireball, a spell-weaving construction, from the academy, and they have sent me to retrieve it.” Eldon was in a peculiar place. While Ander poised a distinct challenge in that he could command both divine and arcane magic, Eldon had indeed fought vampires before. Upon his evaluation of the challenge posed, Ander would be quite the challenging foe, but Eldon believed he could survive such a battle. On the other hand, his children would likely quickly perish in such a conflict. Eldon decided it would be best to rely upon Ander’s code of conduct to try to deescalate the tension.
“Ah, has the academy realized the importance of spell-weaving constructions then? Or did you just come to accompany the other gnomes that are lingering behind you?”
“I wouldn’t have thought you the type to participate in theft Ander. You were always quite axiomatic in following your beliefs. However, despite wanting the text back, the academy still considers such things a dead-end. Did you find something new or have you just fallen into the same traps as the original researchers?” Again, Eldon decided to continue to be honest with Ander, but had tried to steer the conversation away from his children.
“Ah, I would support your cause, but every academy has forfeit the claim to ownership of these texts by not properly utilizing the knowledge contained within. Yes, I have found things that your fellow scholars have not, but is that really surprising?” After a moment Ander continued. “Then, do you intend to continue to try to retrieve your text, or do you realize that I am correct in my claim that I am now the rightful owner?”
Eldon pondered on how to proceed. In reality, even all of the texts in this collection weren’t worth his children’s lives. The academy had indeed written them off as of little use beyond curiosities, so he decided the best course of action would be to try to retreat without conflict and let the academy know what was occurring. “Very well, I concede your right of ownership. While I came on this task under the impression that the text was stolen, I have been persuaded by your argument that it is indeed your property. As such, I hope that you will forgive my trespass into your home and let me and my companions be on our way.”
Eldon wasn’t sure what Ander’s reaction would be. He was ready to cast if Ander decided to attack. However, it appeared that appealing to Ander’s rightousness had worked when Ander replied, “Very well. However, since you will likely tell the academy of this encounter, let them know that any further trespassers will not be afforded the same opportunity that you have been.”
At that Eldon turned and walked over to his children. Both looked puzzled, they clearly had many questions. However, Eldon wanted to be along before anything happened that would change the circumstances. He therefore, sternly turned to his children and said, “We will be going now, come along.” Orren and Orla could both tell from his voice that their questions or objections would have to wait. Eldon then teleported the group back to his office.
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