Royal Academy of Dunthrane - The most prestigious educational institution in Southold. Countless nobles' sons have been educated at this exclusive center of learning, where only the most intelligent of noble birth are admitted. The Royal Academy has stood since before the Cataclysm and now occupies a large compound not far from the Citadel. It contains a number of small, specialized libraries each serving a different department. Visiting each library and retrieving information takes a minimum of two hours, not including study time there. To use the libraries, the adventurers need to secure permission from the Dean, Tomarkis Anchervar. The notations detail whether Conclave members visited the libraries in question.
Architecture: Not visited.
Economy: Not visited.
Engineering: Not visited.
Geography: Several visits by Mekkarri and Gondal are noted within the past few months. The texts consulted were Cave Architecture of Eastern Rockhome, Imaginary Landscapes, and The True Relation of the Kron Hills and the Lands Surrounding.
Healing: Amstard deposited his own pamphlet, Curative Music, for others to read.
History: Bigby requested two books: the Flann-aerich'nyt and A History by Coerlan Attlander.
Literature: Mekkarri took out The Poems of Thalac Jiwo.
Music: Amstard makes frequent visits here, but nothing relevant to the matter at hand.
Painting: Not visited.
Sculpture: Not visited.
Theatre: Not visited.
Dunthrane Arcane Academy - This institution, formally part of the Royal Academy, is in fact, a separate entity. The Chancellor is the noted mage Mekkarri, an affable wizard of great power, wisdom, and patience. Assisting him in the Academy's highly touted Alchemy Department is master alchemist Questor Thews. Unlike the Royal Academy proper, any Southron mage of exprerience can do research and use
the facilities here, providing they pay the hefty one year membership fee (500 sp).
Bigby: The Chronicle of the Secret Times by Uhas of Neheli
Gondal: The Book of Stone.
Zenjik: The Beasts of Humanity by Balar and The Dragon-Scale Tome
Mekkarri: Treatise on the Practice of the Hidden Ones
Otliuke: A Rigorous and Complete Treatise on the Theoretical Applications of De-Salinated Waters in the Production of Potions
Results of Research in Dunthrane--investigating what the Conclave had been reading
The Chronicle of Secret Times
Description: This book, a massive tome bound in purple leather, is the work of the great historian Uhas of Neheli, one of the later Oceanian families that settled in what is now Hule. As one of a handful of pre-Cataclysmic surviving books from Oceania, its pages are water-soaked, rotting, and very difficult to decipher. Uhas was the official dynastic historian and produced two major works during his lifetime - The official history and this work. The first is the approved history of the Neheli dynasty. The Chronicle is Uhas' description of the scandals, corruptions, crimes, and cruelties that were not included in the approved history.
Early in The Chronicle, Uhas describes the establishment of the Neheli family. A good portion of the first chapters, describing an age that was considered ancient even when Uhas was writing, depicts the struggles between the Neheli and the previous ruler, the Whispered One, Lord Vecna. The account does not say much about Lord Vecna, save that he was a great and cruel sorcerer. He had allowed his empire to wane, however, in his quest for immortality. Even as the enemy troops surrounded his tower, he ignored them, placing great magical wards and protections on the building so that he might not be disturbed. A week into this siege there was a great explosion, which utterly destroyed the tower and a hundred soldiers who had been stationed nearby.
Vecna's fell influence was not gone, however. One of the maimed Neheli captains found a withered hand and eye near the tower. He was compelled to attach the hand to his stump of an arm and soon later removed his own eye with a dagger and placed the blackened one in its place. This captain soon usurped power from the Neheli, for he had great powers, among them the ability to read others' minds at will and
to create great gouts of frost from his unholy hand. He could even disintegrate objects, but his most feared power was his grasp of death, against which there was no defense. Yet the captain soon became mad, believing that he was the slain Lord Vecna. When he reinstated the cruel laws of the Whispered One, the peasantry revolted. Surprisingly, the powers of the Hand and Eye failed him, and he was burned alive by the mob. The Neheli leaders tried to locate the Hand and Eye afterward that they might destroy them on the Golden Forge at the Heart of the Sun, but they were nowhere to be found.
The Dragon-Scale Tome
Description: This obscure tome, so named because its pages are made from fine shavings of blue dragon hide, is an investigation into the history and fate of 20 of the most prominent artifacts of Arik. Written several decades ago by the Videssian wizard-historian Timonas of the 9th Cabal, the book is a compilation from other histories, rumors, legends, and spells. Thus it is a mixture of fact and fiction.
There is a section on the Eye and Hand of Vecna. This describes the appearance of these artifacts over the centuries, including the Insurrection of the Yaheets of the Dark Wood, the reign of Vecna the Second at Tyrus, the DwarfLord of Blemu, and on to the Dark Paladin-King of the Iron League.
The last entry for the Eye and Hand concerns their last known owner, Halamader the Cruel. The account tells briefly of his evil rule and subsequent internment. Timonas places Halamader's small kingdom in northern Hule. Of Halamader's burial, Timonas simply notes that his tomb was hidden somewhere in the
Kron Hills, foothills on the desert's periphery between Rockhome and Hule. He speculates that the Eye and Hand were probably buried with Halamader.
There is also a section on the legendary Sword of Kas, an artifact Vecna created at the start of the Second Cortalish War for Kas, his chief lieutenant. The blade is forged in the flame or water style, and is six feet long, with an additional two feet of hilt -- yet this ponderous weapon was magically able to be wielded with ease by Kas. The sword had numerous powers, particularly many immunities as well as the ability to grant Kas the strength of a giant. Kas eventually decided to usurp Vecna's empire, and attacked the Emperor of the Spidered Throne in his tower in Gos. History records that there was a great explosion, and the tower was destroyed, along with Vecna, Kas, and the artifacts. Faced by the intervention of the elves of the Galathiene and the dwarves of Rockhome, the now-leaderless Cortals sued for peace, ending the First Cortalish War. While Vecna re-emerged to rule the Cortals after several decades, and his Hand and Eye emerged in several places, giving rise to false Vecnas, the Sword of Kas was never recovered.
There is also a section on Tovag Baragu. It is a well-known locale among scholars of the Arcane. Its location and peculiarities are well-known, but not its purpose. Tovag Baragu also goes by the name the "Stone Circles" and lies on the shore of Lake Undrukar, deep in the heart of the dry steppes of the Yazak Khanates between Tara and Videssos. It is a mysterious structure of massive stone blocks set in concentric circles. It is unquestionably ancient, although its precise origins remain unknown. Many scholars believe that it is one of the few surviving structures of the Oceanian culture, over 15 centuries old. Certainly it must harbor powerful magic to have survived the great destruction that ended that civilization.
Tovag Baragu sometimes exhibits strange magical properties. Several explorers describe how it magnified distant scenes, even scryed far-away planes. It may produce strange effects on the local weather in addition to these strange vistas. Most travelers who have made the arduous journey to the Stone Circle have commented about the local tribes. These savage nomads of the Yazak plains hold the Stone Circles to be neutral, holy ground and this is where the khans of rival tribes meet to negotiate. They take a hostile view of strangers poking around the pillars; only careful negotiation and trade has allowed explorers access to the site at all.
The Book of Stone
Description: The Book of Stone takes its name from its covers, made from thin slices of malachite. Within the rich, green bindings are a few slim pages describing the internment of a certain Halamader the Cruel. Over a century ago, Halamadar came into the possession of the Eye and Hand of Vecna. These powers allowed the accomplished warrior to become the dictator of a sizable enclave in the northern Sind desert. The artifacts further corrupted his already vile spirit, transforming him from merely cruel to sadistically evil.
Finally, his Huler subjects could not bear any more. After several failed attempts, they managed to drug their lord into a deep sleep. Miraculously for them, the powers of the Eye and Hand failed at that point. Still, fearing they would be cursed for shedding noble blood, the conspirators chose instead to imprison Halamader in his own burial mound, far off in the Flann-aerich. Here they assumed he would die of starvation, though they took the extra precaution of sealing the tomb with powerful enchantments to prevent their cruel lord from escaping.
The Beasts of Humanity
Description: This work is a rambling encyclopedia of the horrid perversions of man. Described therein are many fascinating monsters, all once human but now twisted, some accidentally, some purposefully, by powerful magic. The lineage of several family curses is outlined. These include the tale of Count Victor von Drakov, Patriarch of Vampires, and Lord Soth, Master of Deathknights, among many others. The practices of some evil cults are detailed as well. Among these is mention of the Eye and the Hand. They are identified as "important tools of an unknown cult, symbolically associated with the founder of the religion." According to legend, the Eye can impart the power to see through all manner of illusions and invisibility, while the Hand allows one to stop time as well as utterly and irrevocably slay someone by touch. When both body parts are used together, their power is magnified, protecting the user from nearly all magic and preventing his detection by magical means. This account only hints at the full extent of these artifacts' powers.
A History of Dunthrane
Description: This book, pompous, self-important, plodding, and dull, contains an account of the early years of the city of Dunthrane, capital of Southold. Most of it is opinionated and self-serving, creating a distorted view of the principal players in these early years. Hidden among all these is a description of how the first Southron king, Athelstan purged the city of the many cults that had flourished in Dunthrane under the Videssian Occupation. One such group was the Cult of the Whispered One. Small but influential, the cult was an extremely stubborn group to purge. Its strength resided in two physically-altered members, the Hand and the Eye, who were able to terrorize the citizenry. Only after much struggle was the cult put down. The Eye and Hand were never killed nor the cult's headquarters found.
Still, much was learned about the Cult's strange hierarchy. Status within the cult is denoted by reference to a body part. The leader of the faith outside the Cortalish Empire is known as the Heart of Vecna. The Eye and Hand are the lieutenants of the Heart; if slain, another can be created to replace them, though only one of each of these creatures may exist. The cult structure in each particular city is called an Organ, which is led by a Thought of Vecna, one of the Whispered One's senior priests. The lesser priests are known as the Memories of Vecna, as it is through them that the day-to-day existence of the cult is maintained. The Teeth of Vecna are the highest lay members of the cult; all wizards. As Master of Secrets, the second most important lay group are the Fingers of Vecna, his thieves and assassins. The Blood of Vecna are the layman warriors, all fanatically dedicated to the cause. Finally there are the Spawn of Vecna, the evil and corrupt peasants and merchants that venerate the Whispered One.
Treatise on the Practice of the Hidden Ones
Description: This is a small broadside prepared by the former Grand Marshal of the Nuadan faith, Anaximander. Meant for the general public, Anaximander describes (in alarmist terms) several vile and wicked cults that a good man might fall prey to. His descriptions of evil are sensationalist and not always accurate, but he writes with a good fire-and-brimstone style that was popular during the recent Anorien Inquisition.
Among these evils, which include the Black Druids of the Green Isles, the Serpent Brotherhood, and the Cortalish Fire Wizards, is a description of the Cult of Vecna. Vecna's priesthood is devoted to spreading the way for their lord's empire and to seeking for the Hand and the Eye, artifacts which are magically hidden from Vecna himself. The priesthood must also examine and acquire strange magic items, and must sacrifice large quantities of such items twice yearly. The Cult is broken up into local cells called Organs, which can consist of as few as ten to over a hundred worshippers. Curiously enough, the Cult does not recognize the Emperor of the Cortalish Empire to be the true Vecna, and does not operate in that land, where the priesthood of Bane is supreme.
The Poems of Thalac Jiwo
Description: Written by Thalac Jiwo, also known as Thalac the Sighted, this is a collection of prophetic poems. Although his prophecies are thickly buried in riddles, word-play, and vague descriptions, scholarly wizards agree that Thalac was an amazingly talented and accurate seer.
One of the last poems in the book seems suggestive of current events. In it, Thalac writes of a time when sight pales, the key will turn in the locked gates of Time, and the halls of the heavens will hail a new king. The culmination of these events shall be on the night the prophet of doom Hyskosa foretold. In general, Thalac's description of the events does not sound good.
Description: The size of this book is deceptive, for the material within is a complicated mixture of prophecy, fact, and metaphysical theory blended together under the guise of fiction. To the reader, it is never clear what meaning or interpretation is intended. Indeed, readers cannot even agree on the contents. There is no question that the words remain the same, but each reader structures the text to meet his own
The heart of this work is the theory of subjective divination. Vastly simplified, subjective divination proposes a magical theory where what can be imagined becomes potential reality. Therefore, by imagining possible futures, one is actually predicting future events, through the act of creating those events (Wizards love this sort of stuff.)
Imaginary Landscapes is therefore not a work of fiction but a prediction of the future - except that some of the events it describes have already occurred since the book was written three centuries ago, while others remain fictitious, and others have yet to occur, if they are to happen at all. Reading this book causes a headache.
Of interest, there is a chapter where the divinations of the world disappear as Magic (a living being) dies, leaving only the art of subjective divination. In the tale, the hero (such as there is one in this odd book) discusses the death of Magic with the Incomplete Man - a character whose body is constantly dividing and reassembling during the course of the conversation. The Incomplete Man takes credit for the death of Magic, which he brought about to make himself whole.
The True Relation of the Kron Hills and the Lands Surrounding
Description: This book is a scholarly gazetteer and history of the Kron Hills. Written by Norfil Defflitter, it is partly an account of his travels and partly his commentaries on the tales and stories of the region. Defflitter's work is praiseworthy for its thoroughness. Every tale that reached his ears is dutifully noted down.
Unfortunately, Defflitter would have profited from a greater dose of skepticism and a more organized mind. He seldom questions the truth or accuracy of the stories he heard. Worse still, Defflitter launches into maddening digressions whenever one tale reminds him of another. The tale of Halamader the Cruel, the last known possessor of the Hand and Eye of Vecna is recounted here. The peasants of his small Huler kingdom eventually revolted against him and interred him a dwarven-built tomb in the Kron Hills. Defflitter even guesses at the location of the Tomb of Halamader on a simple sketch map.
In an unrelated story, there is an ancient legend recorded from Clan Blackhammer. It tells of strange, tall, gaunt human who strode into one of the village (it is not recorded which particular one). He had but a single eye and hand. As was custom, the dwarves offered him hospitality. After an evening of feasting and drinking, they set to games of wrestling and strength -- the stranger beat all comers. When it was over, he drew a great sword, like none had ever seen before.
He said, " I have beaten you, every champion who has come before me. For this I have the right to lay a charge upon you. This sword shall be your bane and strength, just as it once was for me. You must guard it until such time that I shall require it again." With these words, he thrust the sword into the earth of the great hall, till the hilt could not be seen. With this, he left, never to be seen again. Ever since, Clan
Blackhammer's fortunes have been dark. In peace its crops have suffered and the desert has gradually encroached. In warlike spirit and martial skill, however, there are none to be found better in Rockhome.
Description: This small book describes the geography of the dry eastern foothills of the Veronian Mountains, known to the dwarves as Rockhome. This region is known by the dwarves as the Flann-aerich and the humans as the Kron Hills. Given its proximity to the Sind desert, it is sparsely populated by the militant dwarves of Clan Blackhammer, who principally live in the settlements of Hagthar, Tulvar, Osnabrolt, and Kron.
Cave Architecture of Eastern Rockhome
Description: This dwarvish work describes many of the caves of eastern Rockhome, including the Kron Hills. Of particular interest is the section on a mysterious cave dwelling in the region. The history tells of how a small group of humans arrived about one century ago and hired the dwarves to construct a special tomb. The builders thought it odd because the tomb was built more to hold something in than to keep
grave-robbers out. Furthermore, the humans made the dwarves swear a great oath pledging to keep the location of the tomb a secret.
Information from the Temple of Tyr
High Priest Stephen Menote, Lord High Chaplain of Southold thinks the divination blackout is a result of conflict among the Greater Powers, which may bode ill for those on Grund. The Neldoreth (apocalypse) may be near. There are several adventuring groups working on the problem with Menote's guidance, scattered from Gos to Hule. These include Thingol & Company, the Circle of Arden, Gastonís Gallants, and the Lucky Seven. As champions of Justice, the priests of Tyr are ever watchful for the activities of strange cults. Through contacts in the Dunthrane City Watch, the priests have heard reports of the Cult of the Eye and the Hand. The cult is active among the Vistani gypsies, though there have been several low-life Southron converts of late. The River Rat tavern in the River Quarter is a particular hotbed of the cult.
Information from Temple of Nuada
The cult of Vecna has made a resurgence among the Vistani. Although they are concerned with the problem with divinations, their god had not warned them about this as a threat to the faith, so they don't fear it -- war is keeping the few priests in town busy. Still, crushing the cult is a good idea. The Nuadan faith has lost much power and influence because the fall of the Anorien Inquisition, but they are rapidly regaining it because of the Third Cortalish War and the many Southron victories. Recent disturbing news has surfaced that the Cortals have been harboring large reserves behind the main line of battle, though reports of these fresh troops have yet to be confirmed.
Information from Temple of Mask
The priests of Mask have seen the symbol of the Cult of the Eye and the Hand, a small wooden hand with an eye in its center worn as a necklace. Several of these symbols have been seen on the thugs in the River Quarter.