It is not often that an adventurer such as yourself is summoned to the Wizard’s Keep, especially at such short notice. You have received urgent news from a close friend in the keep, informing you that they need people such as yourself to protect the place. It is obvious some kind of delivery has taken place, obviously the items being moved have significant value. It is mid-summer, but the whole area is embroiled in a snowstorm. Snow and ice are whipped up into sheets that roll across the view outside your window, descending from the Deathdrop Mountains some distance away, snaking about the buttresses of the keep like the cold hand of death itself. Something is not quite right here. The keep is within ten miles of the Desert of Skulls, there should not be snow here, and most certainly not a blizzard. Letting your over-active imagination rest for a while, and blaming the weather upon the wizards, you get into bed and attempt to settle, falling into a disturbed sleep, tired from your journey to the keep.
A single chime from the keep’s bell signals the start of a new and forlorn day… It is midnight. The sheets of snow continue to assail the ancient building, ricocheting off its sides like tiny slivers of glass. Far off into the distance, a lone man hobbles towards that place. Bent double over his oak walking stick, he strains his eyes in the darkness, his lantern useless in this weather. A few minutes later, he reaches the gate.
A loud voice rings out from the lantern light of the gatehouse, barely audible above the raging storm.
“Stop! In the name of the magical protectorate, who goes there?”
The old man looks towards the lantern light, and in a voice that sounds strained and lost, replies,
“I am in desperate need of shelter… will you please help me? All I ask is a bed for the night…”
There is a response from inside the gatehouse, mumbles, stifled complaint enquiring as to if the visitor is aware of what the hour is, as the locks click open with a loud, dull thunk and the man is ushered inside. Several silent minutes later, all that remains of the gatekeeper is a small pool of blood and powdered bone, blowing around the floor of the gatehouse in the wind.
Something silent moves down the corridor that connects the gatehouse to the castle interior. Systematically, it searches every room, one by one. It brushes past you in your sleep, seemingly through you…causing dark and terrible nightmares as it passes, and your sleep to be ever more restless.
Much later, the Something has found its way to the keep’s depths. Many floors below the surface, down a long corridor covered in runes, it stands before a huge oak and gold door, guarded by two guards, highly trained in the magical arts, alert and ready to repel attack.
The thing brushes past the first guard, still not visible, but leaving a feeling of dread and despair wherever it goes.
“Deran? Is that you?”
The first guard looks sideways, hearing a voice, seemingly from nowhere, whispering and muttering in the gloom. Before he knows what is happening, the Thing has sucked his soul into the realm of magic. The two seconds of distraction are all that is needed to achieve the task.
“Hey, pay attention! We are supposed to be watching…”
The second sentinel drops his guard for a fraction of a second to glance at the first guard. What he sees in the place of the guard fills him with dread and terror. Standing before him is a Thing, composed of shadows and darkness, almost humanoid in form, but translucent like black murky water. Thousands of impossibly white teeth jut from a mouth like ebony, set below two eyes, glowing red like the pits of hell themselves, swirling maelstroms of hate and suffering ready and hungry to devour. The guard has chance to utter the first split-second of a single, terrified horrific scream as a hundred scintillating tentacles emerge from the ravenous maw, pulling him face-first into the mouth of the Creature, and drain him of his very essence, and consuming in the most painful, terrible and horrific way for any mortal creature to end its life…
Mere seconds pass. The Thing passes out of the room through the door where the pair of guards once stood. Tucked underneath what could be described as an arm is a package of parchment, seven pieces of tattered vellum, covered in arcane scripture. Pausing for a short amount of time, The Thing takes a sharp ninety-degree turn, exiting through the ceiling, mysteriously taking the package through the solid structure with him…
Minutes pass. There is an unbelievable scream of anger and rage as the Thing is sucked through the magical void to a place far away. Its stolen goods are dispersed, as the creature is forced to let them drift away, through the darkness. One by one the seven items drop out of the ether, landing hundreds of miles apart, in unknown locations. The psychic blast created by the event wakes you, and everyone else within the Wizards Keep. Almost immediately, you begin packing your bags. Something terrible has happened. You must leave this place…
Morning arrives at last to the Wizard’s Keep. Melting snow disguises a night of terror and pain, washing away bloodstains where once trained guards stood.
A solitary wizard knocks on the door of the grand wizard’s room…
“What is it? I thought I told you never to wake me at this time in a morning?”
The grand wizard opens his door to an apprentice wizard who does not look like he is bringing good news. Immediately, the grand wizard senses the worry in the youngster’s eyes, and ushers him to a seat near his desk.
“I’m sorry to disturb your sleep, sir, but it seems we have a big problem…”
“Well, what problem is that? Stop procrastinating, man… you’re a wizard not an Orc…”
The young wizard starts to explain the events of the previous night. During the morning they had managed to figure out much more information.
“The great demon Lord Garneth has sent a demonic assassin here, sir. He attempted to remove the seven spells of destruction from the holy sanctum, but was banished by an unknown force, and dispersed the scrolls through Utopia during the banishment process..”
A look of terror fills the grand wizard, and he becomes almost as pale as the young apprentice seated before him. The seven scrolls the Thing attempted to steal were the Seven Spells Of Destruction, elements of evil locked away for all time. The scrolls were created in days long past, meant to usher in a new era of prosperity known as the peace pact. Evil had corrupted that meeting and the scrolls, turning them to the darkness, and causing them to be locked away and hidden for all time. Anyone reading the scrolls was said to gain immense power, in exchange for a part of their very soul, which could never be reclaimed. Reading all seven of the scrolls would not be advisable for anyone who wanted to preserve any thread of humanity. They had recently been moved here from the central magical repository far to the north, and it was obvious the demon Lord Garneth wanted them for some otherworldly purpose… Given previous attempts staged by this menace, and the fact that the demon had no soul to lose by reading the scrolls, it probably wanted to take Utopia for itself and overrun it with his foul minions. The wizard also knows that time is of the essence. Unless they find the scrolls before Garneth can send out more monsters to obtain them, all will be lost. Utopia will be destroyed, starting from the Wizard’s Keep in a final showdown of magical power.
“Those scrolls must be found!!! Garneth will find them first unless we hurry! Put a notice out to all adventurers and explorers… Ten thousand gold pieces to the one who brings back the scrolls and destroys the demon!”
The assistant wizard rushes to your room to wake you, but when he opens the door the room is deserted. You have already gone… Are you already looking for the seven scrolls, or have you journeyed somewhere else?
From here you take control. Decide the future of Utopia…