The Tome Unburnt – Phandelver

Following the advice of Al’Gul, I ingratiated myself with Gundred, a dwarven merchant. Al’Gul had set me the task of winning him to the Lord’s Fire, and by hook or by crook I was going to do it. So when Gundred asked me to help protect his supply delivery to Phandalin, I satisfied myself that this guard duty was in the service of something greater. The gold pieces Gundred offered paled in comparison to what my lord could deliver me, if I completed his mission.

Gundred had hired a most strange person to help protect the wagons. Bronzeworth was a wooden automaton, like a living scarecrow infested with vines. I’m not sure whether his circuitry is properly functioning – when I tried to enlighten him about the great Al’Gul, he didn’t show much interest. For all his ignorance about spiritual matters and unfortunate blunders, I appreciated his zeal for wealth redistribution and ability to swing a scimitar.

When we approached Phandalin, we came across a most disturbing scene. The horses of Gundred and his bodyguard had been slain, as I ascertained with a precise inspection. Before I knew what was happening, Bronzeworth had slung a rock into the back of my head!

The mechanical man’s gaffe allowed a pair of goblins to get the jump on us. While I bravely drew their fire, Bronzeworth hacked away at the bandits with his scimitar. Nasty business, but it was them or us. Once I showed them the devastating power of the Lord’s Fire, the goblins turned and fled. They had learned their lessons and were no doubt set to enroll in the local academy and turn their lives around. I had half a mind to refer the straggler to my good friend Drax for gainful employment when Bronzeworth, the cad, felled him with a stone from his sling. I must keep an eye on this wooden fellow. They didn’t program him with a sense of decency.

I’ll give him credit though, he knows a business opportunity when he sees one. We couldn’t leave the saddlebags to be pilfered by any two-bit bandits, so we performed the public service of delivering them to the proprietor of the town shop. We could form a great business team, like Unsworth and Headly. Myself with the guile, charm, salesmanship, savvy and ideas, and Bronzeworth with the audacity and ability to pull a fully laden cart. We delivered Gundred’s merchandise, but the dwarf himself was nowhere to be seen.

My probing questioning uncovered a lead – Gundred’s brothers had a camp outside the town limits. From there it was but a short hop to the Lost Mine of Phandelver. A more wretched hive of villainy I’ve never seen.

We crept in, hiding ourselves in the dark. Bronzeworth’s visual circuits clearly suffer without the beacon of the Lord’s Fire. He stumbled down a chasm and nearly knocked himself out. The old army adage holds true – teach a man a healing spell and he’ll throw himself into danger like a reckless fool. The fall must have damaged his joints, because he produced a nasty clanking sound for the rest of a day, ruining my attempts at camouflage.

Before long, we snuck up on three vile ghouls. They had been planning to ambush unsuspecting passers-by, so I performed the public service of springing their little trap. Although the ghouls took several chunks out of my armour as I fought manfully, Bronzeworth was not so agile. The ghouls, seeing in him a weaker target, ambushed him and tore off a piece of his wooden flesh. The shock seemed to short out some of his circuits, because he fell into a coma.

The air was split by two clarion calls. One was the quack of a duck-bear, and the other from an infernal horn. The ghouls fled, though from which I could not tell. The duck-bear approached, but before I could face this new arrival, my colleague Bronzeworth needed me. I applied all my expertise to reconnect his vital circuits, but a full system reboot would take a little longer. Old technology.

I faced off with the duck-bear, and it yielded to my stare. This mountain of a creature may wield a great axe with an animal rage, but I had cowed it to my will. The duck-bear carried the rebooting body of Bronzeworth as we headed for an exit. Although I was still strong and hardy, Bronzeworth clearly needed a rest.

Standing in our way however, was a bugbear. These misunderstood people are often forced into banditry, though this particular individual must have fallen on hard times indeed to share a cavern with the residents of Phandelver. Rather than forcing needless bloodshed, I used the powers of illusion bequeathed to me by Al’Gul to encourage the poor creature to flee. Though the rebooted Bronzeworth again showed his caddishness and was joined by our new duck-bear friend, I was above such bloodlust.

Bronzeworth’s reboot must have gone poorly. He kept insisting that he could understand the duck-bear’s quacks, and that it wasn’t a duck-bear at all. Who has ever heard of such a creature as a platypus? Let alone a platypus-bear. A bear that lays eggs? Entirely preposterous. I humoured the misfiring Bronzeworth and our new friend whom he dubbed Platsy.

After Bronzeworth defragmented his hard drive, our motley crew headed back into the mines to resume the fight. We couldn’t allow such dangerous ghouls to molest a settlement like Phandolin, and Gundred’s whereabouts were still unknown.

This did seem to have been, at one stage, a quite profitable mining venture. Quality ore, and plenty of it. If we could root out the source of the infestation, we could claim it for ourselves and make some proper gold. Even more gold than I liberated from the clutches of long dead men and their reanimated bones, as the light of Al’Gul shone upon them.

On this second trip, Bronzeworth insisted on spoiling our chance of surprise with a fire that his natural spirits granted him. The automaton might have a good pair of light sensors, but he’s got no sense of theater.

Our new friend Platsy though, that duck-bear could swing a greataxe. He demonstrated by ably slicing through our old foes the ghouls. Even Bronzeworth got in on the act, with a very interesting binding spell, which held the ghouls rigidly in place. And thus, the Lord’s Fire was unleashed upon them. On the second attempt, the ghouls didn’t even threaten us, as Platsy proved a very able companion.

With Bronzeworth’s torchlight and the uncanny navigation skills of the duck-bear, we soon found upon the source of all this monstrousness. An abomination against the Lord’s Fire. No one but Al’Gul may control a blaze. Peasants may have their peasants’ fire, red, dull and slow burning. But all higher levels of fire are the property of Al’Gul, for he is the Lord’s Fire.

I knew this heretic at once. A floating skull encased in a pyre of bright green heat, he could not hide from my enlightened gaze. Al’Gul’s judgement would be upon him. Though he muttered something about treasure, such matters were beneath me. This was nothing less than a holy crusade against the apostate.

Though the heretic may have stolen the Lord’s Fire, I am one with Al’Gul. He slashed and stabbed at my companions as I fired bolt after bolt upon his evil visage. Platsy swung hard with his greataxe and Bronzeworth with his scimitar, but only a holy man can purge an apostate. This evil force struck Platsy hard, leaving him a shell of a duck-bear. He drained the very life from Bronzeworth with a single touch. But I kept up the barrage, never letting the heathen rest. The fires of Al’Gul struck hard and true upon this accursed thing. It could not hide from the judgement of the Lord’s Fire.

As the heretic lay dying and mangled, the power of Al’Gul coursed through my veins. The Lord’s Fire is generous to those who serve.

My companions must learn of his power. The world must learn of his power. Perhaps even poor Bronzeworth could survive, if he were to make a deathbed conversion and realise the truth of Al’Gul. But for now, as I write this in the dark of the heretic’s lair, I pray that he wakes up. For all his faults, Bronzeworth is a hardy soul, quick with aid and a most useful travelling companion. The world would be poorer without him.