Candlekeep is a many towered fortress library that stands on a crag, looking down upon the Sea of Swords. The library is filled with books and scrolls of knowledge, and it was the home of the great seer Alaundo. It has always been protected by the Weave of Magic, patterns upon patterns of spells that prevented even the mightiest of wizards from compromising the library. That is, until today…
Ulraunt looked around nervously at his assistant, Tethtoril and then at the gathered avowed, monks dedicated to protecting Candlekeep. Another explosion rocked the fortress, causing more debris to fall from the ceiling. Despite the ongoing assaulkt on the fortress, the neverending song-chant known as the “Chant of the Unfulfilled Prophecies” continued to echo through the halls. The thirty monks assigned to forever sing the chant did not seem to be wavered in their duties by the attack.
“They’ve taken The Way of the Lion with their forces. Goblins and Hobgoblins dot the countryside,” said Tethoril.
“Dragons!” exclaimed one of the younger monks. “They have dozens of Dragons helping them.”
Another of the monks, this one much older, complained angrily. “Since when have Dragons been in these parts?”
Another blast rocked the fortress.
“This is madness!” explained another monk.
“Silence!” shouted Ulraunt. The wizard remained proud and haughty in his demeanor despite the situation. He thumped his heavy Staff of the Magi twice on the floor to draw the attention of the gathered mnks. “Mystra has always protected Candlekeep. The wards are strong. We have nothing to fear.”
Just then, ten more Avowed arrived, rushing past the others and take up positions in the main passageway. They aimed their heavy crossbows toward the door.
“But my lord,” said Tethoril. “Mystra is dead.”
Ulraunt narrowed his eyes. “I refuse to believe that. Perhaps a single Avatar was vanquished, but the Goddess lives.”
Tethoril shook his head helplessly.
The tension mounted as the ground shook and the scream of dragons were heard moving around the outside, ever closer. The monks seemed to refocus at that time, falling into fighting stances and preparing to face whatever might come through the main doorway.
Ulraunt spoke calmly, his voice soothing. “We have nothing to fear. Mystra will protect us.” He raised his Staff of the Magi, and a light flares in the hallway, casting a slightly golden hue on all those gathered in front of the door.
The nervous Avowed ready their weapons, eyes shifting this way and that as they listened to the disturbing sounds coming from outside. Suddenly a tremendous blast opened up a hole in the main passageway and a score of fearsome armored Hobgoblin warriors made their way into the smoke-filled corridor. A score of black-clad Dragon Cultists all armed with cruel daggers followed them.
A few heartbeats later, the passage was full of carnage. The monks were highly trained in their martial arts, but the Hobgoblins had skill of their own. The battle seemed to be at a stalemate until one of the black-clad cultists conjured a fireball and tossed it in the middle of the hallway. Several Avowed screamed and staggered through the smoke, holding shattered arms and faces. Some fell roughly to the ground, simply consumed by the fires, their bodies turned to ash and cinder.
Tethoril shouted in anger, dropping a Hobgoblin soldier with a shattering blow to the head from his spiked mace.
Ulraunt raised his staff, preparing to unleash magic of his own. But before he could, an explosion shattered the wall next to the mage. Rubble smashed into him, partially pinning his legs to the cold stone floor of Candlekeep.
“No!” shouted Tethoril. He turned, exposing himself for a strike from one of the Dragonclaw Cultists. Tetoril went down in a heap next to his mentor, bleeding from four gashes to his midsection. “Mystra will protect us, you said.” he gasped. “Mystra will protect us.”
“No,” came a deep, foreboding voice from the new gap in the wall. Stepping out from the dust and smoke, Rath Modar strode into the hallway to stand over the two fallen scholars. “She is dead, and Lolth is the new Mother of Magic.” The large man stepped towards Ulraunt, picking up the Staff of the Magi. Ulraunt groaned pitifully.
The seven-foot-tall Red Wizard of Thay made his way into the light of the main passageway. This was Rath Modar, an ambitious mage with a reputation for cruelty, deception, and obfuscation. He had a keen interest in ancient civilizations and lost objects of power making him a key player in the alliance with the Dragon Cult. Everyone instinctively backed away from the imposing wizard and a deathly quiet swept through the Avowed. Several of them broke and ran in a frenzied panic.
Rath raised the Staff of the Magic, and spoke a single word of magic. All of the monks suddenly stopped, their eyes going wide, their lives suddenly snuffed out by Rath’s spell. He took a few more steps forward. The wizard stood amid the broken and twisted bodies of the Avowed. He pointed a finger at Tethoril and then moved his fingers into a fist. The already greatly wounded scribe was lifted off of the ground by sheer force of magic, and hung there eye to eye with Rath like a manrionette on strings.
“Tell me where the artifact is, and I may still let you live.” Rath Modar’s voice was stern. “Deny me, and I will take everything your fortress has to offer.”
Ulraunt struggled in vain against the rubble pinning his leg to the floor. “We’ll tell you nothing.”
Rath Modar chuckled then, turning to face one of the Cultists. “Favric, tear this pathetic monastery apart until you find the scepter.” The wizard made another motion, and Tethoril slammed back against the wall viciously. He slid down to the floor, moaning in pain. “Kill everyone and everything inside Candlekeep. Take everything of value and load it into the wagons.”
Favric nodded to Rath, and took two steps away from the wizard. The other Cultists were already moving away down the hallway followed by the remaining Hobgoblin soldiers. Rath watched them depart, and then glanced back at the gaping hole. “No need to lurk in the shadows, Teufel. Come join us in the light.”
A man only slightly shorter than Rath stepped from the broken wall. He was wearing flowing white robes and a matching turban. Long, thick red horns and barbed tail protrubed from his robes, reavealing his true nature. He was a Tiefling, a human with a demonic heritage.
“I prefer my name, Master Modar, rather than a crude reference to my Hellish background.” He squinted his deep black eyes, the solid orb unable to properly adjust to the light in the hallway. He sighed, revealing his sharply pointed teeth, at seeing the two leaders of Candlekeep laying at Rath’s feet.
The Tiefling smirked slightly, glancing at Rath for a moment as if they shared an inside joke at Ulraunt’s expense. He then kneeled down in front of Tethoril, lacing a single finger on the man’s neck. The Tiefling smiled. “He is dead.”
Ulraunt sucked in his breath. “No,” he groaned. “Impossible.”
Rath Modar extended a single finger to point at the master of Candlekeep. “Nothing is impossible, old man. Your fortress’s wards have been unwoven by the Mistress of Magic, Lady Lolth, as easily as they were woven by your former Goddess.” A jet black ray of energy shot from Rath’s finger and struck Ulraunt in the chest. The mage shuddered for a moment, and then let out a death rattle as he slumped lifeless to the floor.
Rath turned to look at Mordai. “Inform Asmodeus that everything is proceeding as planned. We will deliver the hoard to the Dragon’s Graveyard in return for the release of our Dark Queen from the Nine Hells.”
Mordai bowed gracefully, sweeping his arm wide. “Very well, I shall advise the Lord of the Ninth.” Within seconds, the Tiefling was gone, leaving only the smell of brimstone behind.
The Wizard glanced down at the two dead loremasters at his feet, and sniffed disdainfully as he walked towards the inner sanctum of the fortress. He noticed, with a grin, that the chanting song of the Avowed had finally ended. The “neverending song” has finally been brought to an end.
“Death to all those who oppose us.”