As we pick up with our intrepid adventurers again they are provisioning in town and preparing to leave for a festival in the next town.
Cloaks, tents, and other sundries are picked up and prepared, and our dwarf, Carreg is doing a little book shopping. In the shop he finds a book on the local sages, some Kitra children’s tales, and a book that just calls to him. That book is bound in red leather, large and heavy, and has a silver inlay of a skull with horns on the cover.
The book is pretty easy to read, and Carreg is eager to start reading it. Carreg notices while reading the book that the lights seem a little dimmer, and food is just a little blander. He puts the book down to read it someplace a little more quiet, a little more private.
The group hits the road and notices an abundance of traffic as lots of people are leaving to go to the same harvest festival that the characters are interested in attending. Campsites abound on the side of the road as night falls. The characters make camp, and stop for the night. By that campfire light the Carreg pulls out his book and starts to read. The book is compelling, and he rushes through the book. In what feels like just a few moments he is 1/2 through the book. Everything around Carreg seems darker, a bit dulled. He pulls himself away from the book and puts it down.
“Read me, Finish me” he hears as he stuffs the book back into his pack.
During the night he dreams of the book, and of what secrets it may contain.
The next day passes, and the road is a bit quieter, but still abundantly filled with people. The characters make camp again, and Carreg feels compelled to bring out the book and read again. This is a bad idea. Carreg tells his traveling companions that the book has been calling to him. The rest of the group soaks the book in oil, and tosses it into the campfire. This too is a bad idea. The campfire explodes! As the fire explodes it briefly makes the shape of a large man with wings. The characters are showered with rocks, fire and other debris. The book is at the bottom of the fire-pit and undamaged.
Other travelers come over to see what has happened and to see if they can help. The characters blame the dwarf’s cooking on the large fireball, and for the dwarf’s rather singed appearance.
The characters travel onwards and reach the next city the following day, and Carreg is hearing a whisper of “Read me, Finish it, FINISH IT!” as he walks along. The group splits up as Carreg and Neil head towards a sage to find out some information about the book, and Rauker and Kerian look for lodging in the city filled with revelers.
The sage they find can help. He looks at the book, and he has a desire to start reading it too. He shakes it off and tells them that the book must be bound in iron. The dwarf is led to a forge and the work begins. The book is bound in four bands of iron, and each blow of the hammer on the iron is another hammer into the very nature of the dwarf. He feels the pain the book is feeling. The book is screaming through a whispered voice “Noooo! Stop! No!” Carreg completes the forging and the book, even after being put in the forge of a blacksmith has suffered no damage. The cover, now bound with iron, is not even singed. Just caged.
The book quietens. The whispers are still there, but as if heard from a half room away. The whispers change from “Read me!” to “Find him! Look for him.” Carreg has given the key to his chest to Neil, so that he can not get to the book easily.
Neil finds some people he trusts and asks if they may know anyone who might be able to deal with a problem with the book. After a bit of thought, he gets an answer. Asimon. He is to arrive in town the next day. Neil’s friend doesn’t like dealing with the guy, but he can probably deal with it.
“Find him! Look for him!” Carreg is allowed to travel freely through the festivities, and he is searching for someone to take the book. Carreg spends the entirety of the day searching for a proper vessel. That night Carreg’s rest is fitful, disturbed. Images of his companions bodies lying around him dripping with gore, as he sees his reflection smiling, and coated with blood.
Kerian, Carreg, and Neil meet with Asimon in a small private room in the back of an inn the following day. Asimon is a very imposing man. He is over 6’ tall, and muscular. His hair is best described as salt and pepper, and he is wearing all dark colors except for his cloak. His cloak is a very pale grey, and has embroidered a set of black wings completely down the back. The wings can not be described as bird wings, nor bat wings, but simply angry.
“What?” he intones as the characters enter the room.
Carreg speaks “We have this book we need to deal with.”
“Fine. You will do as I say, and ask no questions till I am finished. Close the door and lock it. Give me the key.” It is done as commanded.“Give me a hammer and something to break these bands”. It is done.
With four swift strikes the book is released from its bonds. Carreg hears “Not him! Not HIM! No! nothimnothimnothim nonononono!” Asimon opens the book and starts to read. In a matter of moments he is halfway, then almost finished with the book. The room visibly darkens, and the air feels thick, suffocating. The room darkens to perfect black.
The group blinks away the darkness and sees a large muscular, blackened, winged individual with flames licking the tops of his wings stand there. Their eyes focus and the image has changed. A large man with flaming red hair and orange eyes now stands behind Asimon with his head down.
“Is he, is that?” sputters Carreg.
“Did you not ask to be free of the book?” Replies Asimon. “You are free of it now.” And as Carreg looks at the book, it ages into a pile of dust on the table.
Neil grabs Carreg and Kerian who have moved towards the door. “Thank you, never saw you, goodbye.”, as he rushes the others out of the room.
Carreg and Kerian ask aloud, almost in unison “What did we release on the world?”
Now boys and girls, the moral of the story could be something along the lines of making sure you know what you are requesting, or sometimes the solution is worse than the problem. But it isn’t. Instead it is this. When someone takes care of your demon problem for free, what did you really pay?