|Perilous Jack unrolls the Scroll, draws in a deep breath, and squints sidelong at the crumbling parchment, as if doing so might spare him some of the terrible consequences should the text prove to be written in the terrible Witch Writing.|
No black wave of necromantic power washes over him; he does not feel his spirit drain away into a cage of flaming black letters. With relief, he opens his eyes and begins to read:
I am dead. Oh, Merciful Tifar’et, the words are so heavy upon the page. Yet if mortal eyes should grant life to these words, then they are true. I am dead, and the great burden is no longer mine to carry. How bittersweet the lightness of spirit thus implied, for while the burden was terrible indeed, yet always I have known my strength equal to the task. But what will come after? Oh, Merciful Tifar’et, the faith of my fellows is crumbling, their courage falters, and their resolve weakens. The seductions of the Mahorelan heretics erode the nobility of their character, and I fear that no worthy successor to this task exists in my time. And so I entrust my secrets unto enduring steel, unyielding iron. Let he who seeks the Nightcrystal be tested and found true, or else destroyed by the hammer blow. Thus do I relinquish Guardianship of the Nightcrystal unto the Will of Tifar’et. Let my Lord choose a successor, for all is uncertain before my eyes, all is darkness – for I am dying. I am dead.
Master Cleric Fostor M’Bathia
The Year of Dawning Dreams
Jack returns the Scroll to its ivory sheath, places the sheath in his pouch, and returns to the chamber of the Iron Golem. He hefts the Golem’s Heart in his hand and contemplates the enigmatic words of the dead Guardian of the Nightcrystal. Oh, Merciful Tifar’et, the Guardian prays. From the old clerics who tutored him at his father’s castle, Jack learned that Tifar’et is the God of the Sun. The Guardian must be good, then, if he serves a good god – and the Nightcrystal must be evil, if the Guardian took it upon himself to protect it from discovery. Now the old Guardian is dead, perhaps slain by the very Ogres who took over his secluded lair, though the Ogres likely never penetrated this hidden chamber. And so I entrust my secrets unto enduring steel, unyielding iron . . . Jack eyes the Golem. It would seem, if he would unravel the secret of the Nightcrystal, he must confront the Iron Golem. First, Perilous Jack must restore the Golem’s Heart.
Add the following to the Journal: Master Cleric Fostor M’Bathia once protected an artifact called the Nightcrystal, but since his death, it has been unprotected. M’Bathia has called on Tifar’et, the God of the Sun, to choose his successor as Guardian.