barnabas_truman: (dwarf)
Bobberick's third fireball struck the necromancer square in the chest, but it fizzled in a gout of smoke. With a gesture from his skeletal hand he unleashed a shrieking skull spirit that sped towards Bobberick. Frantically, the gnome swung his wand around in a strange geometric pattern, tracing glowing lines and circles in the air, and in response the spirit curved in a too-close-for-comfort orbital arc around him and returned to its sender.

The necromancer began to do the same, but Aliss interrupted the counter-counterspell by the time-honored method of stabbing him in the back. The ectoplasmic missile continued on its new course: skull collided with skull in a horrendous crash, and the cloaked figure sank to the floor. The few remaining skeleton warriors froze in place and crumbled to pieces, leaving Karl swinging his axe at empty air.

"Aaaaand that's the end of Skullface Sam," said Bobberick triumphantly. "Done in by his own dark magics. Whew."

"Yeah, I'm sure it's very symbolic. Hey, what's this?" asked Aliss, reaching for a bit of sparkle on the dead necromancer's finger. She carefully pulled off a dull silvery ring, and his bony visage faded and changed.

"Whoa," said Bobberick; "there was a human face behind the skull all along."

Karl chuckled as he holstered his axe. "Usually it's the other way around.

Bobberick prodded the corpse with his wand. "He's young. Not usually a trait associated with powerful wizardry. Maybe he got most of his arcane skill from that ring. Aliss, what's it look like?"

"Probably silver, but I'm not certain," speculated Aliss. "It's got a little skull with glowy eyes."

"Lemme see," said Bobberick, standing on tiptoes. Aliss handed it to him. "Hmmmmmm." He stared at it and held his breath in concentration. "Yeah, definitely enchanted, as if we didn't already know. Almost looks like a cheap knockoff of one of the Glowskull Rings the Skullamancer made way back in the Revenant Wars. I wonder where Sam got it."

"Could it be the real thing?" asked Karl.

"Nah, they're long gone. The Paladin Patrol doom-dropped all of 'em back in the '30s. Nine paladins, nine rings, each one got his or her own personal sidequest. Good story; somebody made a TV miniseries of it ten or fifteen years ago."

"You sure about that?" challenged Aliss. "What if the Skullamancer made more than nine?"

"Sure I'm sure. Magic rings come in sets of three, seven, or nine; that's how magic works."

"You may know magic, but you don't know sneaky like I do, and the Skullamancer was all about sneaky magic. If it were me I'd make ten rings and let people think there were only nine, just in case."

"Yeah, but... but..."

"Is there any theory-of-magic reason why there couldn't be a tenth ring, or is it just traditional?"

"There's... um... crap. Yeah, we just found a lost Glowskull Ring, didn't we?"

"Are you gonna argue about it all day, or cast an Identify spell when we get back to town?" Karl asked. "Anyway, could we just hand it off to the Paladin Patrol and let them deal with it?"

"They're all retired," said Aliss with a wry grin. "Wouldn't be much opportunity for a Thieves' Guild if they weren't."

"Guess it's up to us then."

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June 2017

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