Early the next morning Dhohar headed out of Jak’s to see Cobrin and get some meat scraps for Rumble and Mischief. It was going to be a brisk hike to get there, out to the companions and then back to Shavaros’s home before breakfast…but he was going to try. The butcher was up and preparing to begin cutting. He brightened at the Dhohar’s arrival, greeted him warmly and didn’t even look askance at the druid when he asked for scrap meats and some entrails in a hemp bag. They chatted briefly and Dhohar confirmed the dwarven ruin was now much safer and that he was happy Mikra seemed fine after the ordeal. The butcher insisted the meat was free and Dhohar reluctantly agreed. He figured he could gather some basic tubers or berries and bring them back on his return for breakfast that day – while not a completely fair trade it was squarer than getting the meat for free. Just before leaving he made a mental to note to ask Cobrin on his return about the girl named Jeva.
The walk out was uneventful and Dhohar’s long strides covered the ground quickly. He was glad to see his friends were well but didn’t dwell long in dropping off the victuals. He promised to return that night and to spend the night sleeping with them. He was looking forward to a few days out and about and wished to tour the area around the camps. He’d see how the others felt about it but he could feel the storm rising in him to act there.
Turning from the cleared portion of the woods Dhohar pointed his boots towards the home of Shavaros and hoped the mage would be about. While he seldom left his tower he prepared for no answer to his knock. The man seemed slightly off mentally, no doubt due to his loss of wife, and Dhohar could only hope Savram was doing fine after the time underground. While he likely missed some of the worst trauma at the hands of the Bloodscales he did have a rough time in the ossuary. Naturally, Dhohar spent little time foraging, as he was in a hurry, but he did find some berries that were near ripe and harvested those quickly to take back to Cobrin.
Arriving at the cemetery he skirted it as much as he could en route to the Vade home. While he had no ill will towards the dead – it was natural to return to nature – he didn’t like the “civilized” way of marking and burying the body. Shavaros was home and he answered the door with bloodshot eyes but a large smile. For the second time Dhohar was struck how the man’s well turned words completely mismatched his disheveled appearance, “Greetings Master Dhohar! Welcome back to our home and workshop! Many thanks for you timely rescue of Savram – he’s said little since his return and he broke down telling of the terrors in the ossuary. Are you here for additional items? I’m afraid I have nothing major new. I found working difficult while so worried after Savram. Nonetheless, do come in!” At the final statement, Shavaros held the door wide and gestured for Dhohar to enter.
Dhohar stepped forward, nodded and replied, “Yes, thank you. We were very happy to help rescue the children. I’m glad Savram is doing well. He was a very brave young man in that ossuary and was very helpful at every stage. You are fortunate Master Vade – your son seems to be a very gifted and intelligent boy.”
Shavaros beamed at the compliments and nodded, “So what brings you this way if not an interest in my stock?”
Dhohar appreciated the human’s directness and desire to come to the point. He wasn’t good at niceties and he was fine seeing he wasn’t alone in that department. “I’m here to see if you have any tomes or manuals on the creation or identification of magical items that I might borrow or purchase. As I mentioned last time I have some magical ability and I’m interested in pursuing the knowledge of items a bit more.” Dhohar knew that Shavaros had likely deduced he was a druid but in either case he’d surely know he wasn’t an arcane caster nor was Dhohar looking for a mage to apprentice to. Thus the only way for information to pass between the two of them would likely be via books.
Shavaros nodded, “Yes, as you might know I was once a professor at the esteemed University of Caldoranth. I have a number of duplicate texts from my time there and I’d be happy to share them with you. If you have something in particular you’d like assistance on, I’d be more than pleased to offer my services for free,” the elder Vade’s voice and expression turned to one of pained sincerity, “I cannot overstate my appreciation for all you’ve done in saving Savram. I know he was safe in the room with Edgrin while you were off facing foes. He mentioned the terrible state your bear was in and I can gather it was no simply matter of getting my son back.” Dhohar smiled slightly and nodded as Shavaros completed his piece and headed for his book shelves. He pulled two mid-sized tomes, each with green bindings and gold lettering down and handed them to Dhohar. Dhohar noted that an entire row of similar books filled that section – likely all copies of the same texts to be used by pupils under his care. They were “mass produced” books but of good quality. The titles announced them as “Basic Methods for the Inquiry into Powers and Abilities of Magic Items” and in smaller print “3rd edition”. The other proclaimed it to be “Treatise on the Creation and Enhancement of Misc. Magical Artifacts” and a subtitle of “Excluding methods for armaments, rings, staves, wands, rods and single usage items”. Impressed with the two books, Dhohar looked up to Vade’s awaiting half-smile.
“My word Master Vade! These are splendid and the perfect thing for what I’m looking for! While we did not find much in the ruins – most of it had been picked over by now – I did hope to study a bit with the one item we’d found. What can I offer you for these texts? They must be quite valuable!”
Vade’s smile deepened, “As I’ve said before – you’ve paid enough in your efforts to bring me Savram. Please do let me know if I can help in examining your item. I’ll warn you – many cursed items are far harder to identify than similar non-cursed items. While none but the creator of an item can be absolutely certain of it’s properties and function, it’s best to let those with the greatest experience investigate such things.”
Dhohar nodded at the last, “Yes I understand. I’ll treat it will due caution and if it seems beyond me I’ll bring it to your attention. Thank you again for the tomes Master Vade and I do hope Savram is well. Please say hello to him for me.”
Their business and conversation concluded, Shavaros showed Dhohar to the door and firmly shut it behind him.
Dhohar circled back towards town and began to turn his thoughts to the orphaned lycanthrope Jeva. While he’d spend some time with the book and the items he’d not previously identified he hoped to track her down and learn the truth of status and the events at the orphanage. If there was a pack of lycanthropes roaming the Vale that would take priority over the lumber camps – even though Dhohar itched to strike there as well. He planned to head out tomorrow, three full days since they’d let Jeva go, and enough time to make the tracking a bit harder. He dropped into Cobrin’s shop and handed the man the berries. The butcher smiled and nodded and thanked him – knowing fully well why they were for him. Cobrin had no information on Jeva… a surprising turn as the butcher would be a likely place for new comers to the town to visit.
Next, Dhohar stopped to eat with the Companions and then bid them good morning. He hoped to use the afternoon to investigate the magical hoard they’d accumulated and dropped the two books from Shavaros off with Zandu. The man’s magical talents were sufficient that he might wish to learn from the volumes as well.
Dhohar headed to the local taverns and began to make a circuit of the waitresses there. It was slow going about town. In the establishments everyone needed a word or wanted to say thanks or offer a drink. Dhohar was appreciative – but he thought it a particularly unusual human custom. If one appreciated another’s works he should stop by the elf’s home and drop something off or stop by and give thanks. Interrupting while he was going about his business – clearly important business – was tantamount to being rude. While he knew they meant well it turned from a short-information-session to an-early-afternoon-return-to-the-lodge with barely more information than when he left and no lunch. All he garnered was that Jeva’s father was a lumberjack and her mother a local washerwoman. They were picnicking when a timber wolf set upon them. It killed her parents but she survived. After stumbling back, scratched and crying, she was taken in by Elara. Given that no survivors were found after the fire it was presumed she burned with the rest. Dhohar was careful to avoid questions as to why he asked and especially did not give away he’d seen her alive – with a terrible secret.
This was not a good situation. Lycanthropy was not a disease of ones – it was a disease of many. Whatever this previous wolf was or wherever it lived it meant more were in the forest. In Dhohar’s forest. Still, he promised to bring Jeva food and see to clothing for her and he intended to keep that promise. Yet, he also knew the disease twisted those it infected making them into terrible and evil beings. It was very unlikely a single, small girl had fought off the worst of it. Dhohar would have to be careful however – a den of them was far more than he could handle and he risked infection simply by confronting the girl. If at all possible Dhohar hoped to find some wolfsbane in the woods he could use to try and cure her. Otherwise…he’d be forced into combat in short order and it would be a contest of might. Dhohar didn’t relish that thought at all.
With the unpleasant thoughts in his head he sat down with the new books from Shavaros and started on the identification one. He was looking for clues based on the type of magic used to create an item as to it’s function. After a few hours toiling with the gauntlet that Zandu claimed, he had a breakthrough. The book described the aura as “…a tinge of brilliant scarlet, combined with a counter-clockwise spin of motes. This denotes an enhancement to the strength of the wearer.” It took some close study for Dhohar to note this spin and tinge but it was clearly present. That settled the last of the aura that he couldn’t place. He knew the gauntlet allowed the casting of a spell to turn the wearer’s skin to stone and also that it would magically enhance attacks using it. It was also clearly made of adamantine – a powerful substance if there was one.
Next, he moved to the scroll and quickly identified a spell that would remove powerful curses. While it wasn’t a spell Dhohar knew yet, it was a very helpful spell. Perhaps this could be used to rid Jeva of her afflication! In any case Dhohar had never cast a spell from a scroll and while he new the general procedure to do so he would be cautious in trying. Elven druids seemed to favor magical items with limited castings each day, items that provided a constant benefit or potions to scrolls. Scrolls were the realm of the arcane – where one saved up a spell to be used on others or in an unusual situation. A druid prepared for the wilds and if he stored spells for “unusual situations” he’d haul nothing but a backpack full of them about. No, a druid made his way with his wits and his flexibility. Morphing and flowing with the desires of nature to aid it. Shaking off those thoughts me moved on.
Finally, he moved to Merlokrep’s crown, the Crown of the Kobold King. The item was a bit ghastly, and Dhohar planned to clean it up some. The previous owner didn’t seem inclined to treat it particularly well. The skulls that adorned it where grim and unpleasant. The ring of iron spikes also seemed blood stained from previous rites. The item put off a strong aura of transmutation and Dhohar first spent an hour skimming the chapter on intricacies of transmutation auras. Then he cast his spell of magic detection and held it, turning the Crown over and over while pouring over it’s aura. Slowly, he matched fragments of description from the book to the aura in front of him. Phrases like, “the episodic burst of violet motes”, “shifting surges and sprays of colour” and “a minor, yet prevalent sense of doom” all seemed to line-up with the Crown. At last, Dhohar was able to determine the powers of the mighty Crown – and they were significant. It enhanced the casting might of any sorcerer, it improved the wearer ’s force of personality, it magically enhanced the armoring of one’s skin and, perhaps most interestingly, it made one immune to the fear effect of dragons. This was a very powerful magical item and of great value. If Kerrdremak suspected they’d made off with something worth far more than the silly throne he’d likely have fought them for it…nonetheless Dhohar wasn’t sure what to do with the item. It’s powers were formidable but not directly desired by him. He noted his findings and then re-covered the Crown with a bag.
Mentally, he was exhausted after the hours long examination and holding of the detect magic spell. He cleaned up the table, re-hiding the magic itesm, and tucked the books back into his traveling satchel. Zandu was out and about at that time so he figured he’d mention the items properties later when he saw the monk.