“As the organ-master writes, so did the dwarven lord lament the axe’s devastation, in the fourth and twelfth…As the organ-master writes, so did the king wander in the second and third…As the organ-master writes, so did Berronar weep tears of joy in the first and sixth,” Airk read. “Damned if I know what any of that means,” he said.
Diamonds Are An
Adventurer’s Best Friend
What’s the first clue for opening the vault? Ma’non’go
said, as Airk glanced through the pages of the duke’s journal.
“Twice…” Airk said, before looking up in surprise at
Ma’non’go’s face. “Are you sure you’re alright, Ma’non’go?”
Of course I am, Ma’non’go said. Why are you
wasting our time asking?
“Because he’s not the only one who’s noticed how you’re
feeling,” Luna said. “You’ve been on edge ever since we entered the Hall.
What’s the problem?”
It’s none of your concern, Ma’non’go said.
“Yes it is,” Revafour said, folding his arms. “Or have you
not spent the last year seeing what holding that kind of anger in did to Airk?”
“And what it led me to do?” Airk added.
“Please, Ma’non’go…we’re just worried about you,” Luna said.
None of it’s your concern, Ma’non’go said. I’ve
said that before, more than once, and I mean it every time I say it! How many
times do we need to go over this?
An awkward silence hung in the air between the companions
before Airk turned back to the journal.
“Twice the total dawns and dusk uncounted during the sun’s
total dance…Eight times the numbers of loathsome years…A quarter the Serene
Highness’s anointment less one,” Airk read. “If there’s one thing dwarves are
good at, it’s hiding their riches,” he said, glancing around at his puzzled
The companions stood in silence for several moments, utterly
baffled by the clues. Finally, Ma’non’go’s eyes lit up and he clapped his hands
to get his friends’ attention.
These references to dawns, dusk and years suggest time
references, don’t they? Could the riddle say how to multiply or divide the
numbers of a length of time?
“But what about the ‘Serene Highness anointment?’” Weimar
said, scratching his head.
“The Prince of Ulek is called ‘His Serene Highness,’” Seline
said. “Rulers get anointed at their coronations, and Prince Olinstaad Corond
was crowned in 281 CY…”
“That doesn’t fit, though,” Airk said. “Quartering such a
number gets a fraction.”
“Less one,” Seline said, holding up a finger as she smiled
triumphantly. “That changes the number to 280…and quartering it gives us 70. 70
must be the third number.”
‘Loathsome’ is another word for ‘hateful’, isn’t it? Ma’non’go
said. The Hateful Wars lasted twelve years, didn’t they?
“That they did,” Airk said, “and eight times that would be
96. I take it 96 is our second number.”
“So what’s the sun’s total dance?” Amyalla said.
The companions fell silent again for several long minutes,
before Revafour had an idea.
“A number of dawns and dusk would be a number of days,
wouldn’t it?” he said. “And some Flan nations honor the sun’s dance at the end
of every year, because that’s how long it needs to dance around the world,” he
continued, referring to how the sun, stars and moons all spun around the Oerth.
But what days aren’t counted? Ma’non’go said, confused.
“Growfest and other festivals aren’t counted as parts of
regular months,” Luna said. “Not by most states that I’ve heard, and certainly
not by any religion I know either. Each of them is a week long, so that’s 28
days between them. If you double that, the number becomes 56.”
“So the first combination is 56, 96 and 70, is it?” Amyalla
said, walking up to the first combination lock. “Here’s hoping, then.”
Whispering a prayer to Brandobaris, the halfling god of
thievery, Amyalla turned the lock’s dial to the numbers the clues suggested.
Straining her ears, Amyalla listened carefully for the sound Gundri Garraldson said
meant that the lock was opened.
Amyalla only realized she’d been holding her breath when she
heard the tiny clicking sound and gave a tremendous sigh of relief.
“What’s the next clue?” Weimar said.
“As the organ-master writes, so did the dwarven lord lament
the axe’s devastation, in the fourth and twelfth…As the organ-master writes, so
did the king wander in the second and third…As the organ-master writes, so did Berronar
weep tears of joy in the first and sixth,” Airk read. “Damned if I know what
any of that means,” he said.
Most of his friends were equally as puzzled, but then Seline
got a sudden idea. Reaching into her pack, she retrieved a large book and began
flipping through it, an eager look on her face.
“Are you preparing a spell, or something?” Revafour said.
“Won’t that drain the magic if you cast it right out of your book-“
“It’s not one of my spell books,” Seline said, holding it up
and showing Revafour the cover. To his surprise, it was a book of plays written
by the legendary bard Heward. Seline loved old legends and plays, a trait that
reflected her Great Kingdom heritage. Revafour remembered how Luna, Ma’non’go
and Weimar had gotten Seline the book for her birthday before they’d met the
rest of the companions.
“So how does that help us?” Airk said.
“The duke’s riddle referred to the ‘organ master’, right?”
Seline said. “The Fables of Burdock talk about the magical organ Heward crafted
when he became divine. That’s probably what the duke meant by an organ master. Those
references to the ‘fourth and twelfth’ made me think of how plays are often
divided into acts and scenes-in other words, Act Four, Scene Twelve. And one of
Heward’s plays was about…here we are!” she said, holding the book up again for
her friends to read.
The title of the play was Axe And Emerald’s Loss, a
story of how the Bastion Of The Hidden Forge, the ancient dwarven homeland, was
destroyed by the Invoked Devastation. The Fortress was ruled by a line of
dwarven kings who wielded the Axe of the Dwarvish Lords as a symbol of lordship.
The Axe was lost in the Bastion’s destruction, a fact the dwarven race had
lamented ever since.
“I performed in this play once as the human child one the
dwarven queen befriended. And I think…there we are!” she said, flipping to the
twelfth scene of the fourth act. Running her finger down the page, Seline found
the line where the dwarven lord lamented the devastation. It was the 19th
line in the scene, and when she flipped back to the earlier scenes in the play
she found that the moments the duke’s riddle referred to were the 8th
and 21st lines.
When Amyalla entered the numbers into the second combination
lock, she cried out in joy when she heard the second lock click.
The next three sets of riddles involved converting the
spelling of certain gems into number codes, working out the number of miles a dwarf
walked underground and moments in dwarven history. The companions managed to
solve all of them, but they were defeated by the sixth, which involved knowing
the date when different types of dwarven ale were first brewed.
Not even Weimar could answer that question, and Amyalla’s
temper flared at being stopped when they’d come so far. Gesturing to her
friends to be quiet, she simply started turning the last combination lock
herself, listening carefully as she tried to remember everything Gundri taught
She remembered correctly, and the click of the final lock
was followed by a larger grinding sound as the vault’s locking bars were
released. Working together, Revafour and Ma’non’go dragged the door open
easily, before they led their friends in.
All the companions’ efforts in exploring the Glimmering Hall
and fighting the undead monsters investing it paid off when they saw the vault’s
contents. Gemstones of every kind, from diamonds to sapphires to emeralds to
rubies to amethysts, and jewelry of gold, electrum and platinum were arranged
in neat piles, undisturbed despite the years since the Hall’s conquest.
The companions exchange smiles with one another as they
considered their good fortune. Between the gemstones they’d won from Lady Babylon’s
minions, the statuettes and chalices from her hoard and the riches of the Glimmering
Hall, they had the most wealth they had since becoming an adventuring band.
They planned to put it to good use.