Longetalos writes "The Crook of Rao played an important role in the post-Wars history of the Flanaess by robbing Iuz of his elite shock troops. In this glimpse behind the scenes, we see how the Old One nearly prevented this from happening, almost keeping the Crook from being delivered to Canon Hazen.
First Letter to Atok
by Richard Di Ioia (email@example.com)
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.
A beardless dwarf walked into his tent. The dwarf was covered with runes from head to foot. A necessary precaution this close to the enemy.
"The wizard received this scroll for you." Stated the dwarf in a gruff voice.
"What's it about?"
"How should I know. Sha-Gral said to carry it over to you and I did." The dwarf said as he dropped the scroll onto the floor.
The wizard probably already checked it for magical traps, Atok thought, as he picked up the scroll off the floor and unrolled it.
Atok, dear friend, how goes the war against the liches?
Have you found out which Lich Lord tried to control the Bear Spirit?
The news here is encouraging as the king has finally declared war on the Old One. It was with great pleasure that I learned Izzygul and myself helped to arrange that. I feel secure in relating this as this scroll was sent by Elijah Morrow directly to Sha-Gral through magical means and Elijah assured me that it would not be intercepted.
A few months ago Izzygul, Willy, Francis and myself were sent to meet a messenger in Willip with a package by the Count. He was quite secretive about what the package was and if it was anyone but himself I would have refused. The contact was a member of an organisation known as The Shadow Alliance. Have you ever heard of them ? Well he gave us a wooden crate with an artefact known as the Crook of Rao. It supposedly had some powers over fiends. He asked us to carry it safely through Furyundy and meet with the next carrier in the town of Caronis. The description of the messenger led us to believe it would be someone we knew.
We decided to stay in Willip a few days to throw off suspicion before moving on. Unfortunately, later that week a team of assassins led by a priest of the Old One captured us. Izzygul escaped capture thanks to advance warning by Redtail. The rest of us were taken onto a ship in the harbor. We were shackled in the hold below sea level. After a few hours Izzygul joined us, he had surrendered to our foes! Obviously he had a plan. But, before he could act on it a priest of the Old One joined us in the room of the ship. He summoned in an illusion of Xenvelen to speak to us! Xenvelen explained that this time we would die a slow and painful death. At that point we realised he knew nothing about the crate, which was still safe in our inn room!
At the end of Xenvelen's speech a bubble of darkness formed around the room entombing us, the priest, and three of his guards. Xenvelen had left his own men to die with us, so as to ensure our death. The room began to fill with a poisonous fume. At the same time the boat's hull opened and the ship began to sink. Izzygul quickly cast gaseous breathing on Willy, Francis and myself. Unfortunately the others in the room died within a few seconds so as to deny me the pleasure of killing them. After Izzigul freed us, we tried to tear open the bubble. After many tries we managed to open a small enough opening to pass one person through. Izzygul turned the rest of us into trees and he went for help. The next thing I remember is being returned to myself with the ship being supported in the air above the water by some priests of Procan.
The next day we left to deliver the crate. On route to Caronis we were assaulted by some hell hounds accompanied by spined devils and led by some Bone Devils. The battle was fierce, but we won. A few days later a swarm of fiends began chasing us. My duty to the others and the task entrusted to me prevented me from charging into combat. On the way into Caronis we noticed that priest of Rao (of Veluna) and warrior/priests of Heironeous (of Furyundy) had set an ambush for the fiends. The patriarch of Rao in Mithrik had plenty of warning of the fiends arrival and arranged the ambush.
We delivered the crate to Brinn Brightmoon, you may remember him as the ranger we met in Castle Ehlenestra a few years ago.
A few months later we learned that the Crook, when used in a ritual by priest of Rao, banished most of the fiends on Oerth! Only a few of them were protected enough to resist the magic of Crook. The time for King Belvor's offensive was at hand.
I will write you at a later date to recount how the war goes.
Perian of Borderwatch, priestess of Heironeous.
18th of Planting, 588
Atok rolled the scroll and placed it on the table. He picked up a piece of charcoal and a blank scroll and began to write a letter back to his friends.
Note: Crook of Rao, Furyondy, Iuz"