This page is part of the magical treasure hunt which you can stage for your friends and family. What follows is material from the introductory booklet which your players are to receive at the start of the treasure hunt.
Of the Fellowship of Nine Talents
The Fellowship of Nine Talents is broken and the members dead or lost.
The Nine were exceptional magicians, entered into a compact of allegiance in order to improve the learning of each through association with the others. They constructed a castle with their magic arts in order to protect their erudition from the rest of the world.
Frequent and intense practice of magic rendered the Nine especially vulnerable to malevolent ghosts, and it is presumed that some one of the Nine has fallen under the power of such a revenant.
Of Chiara the Thuamaturge (kē · ‘ä · rä)
Chiara has been dead these several years, killed by an unkown hand and her body discovered within the sanctum of the Nine. The sanctum can be breached by none but the nine of the fellowship, each of whom holds an enchanted key to the room.
Of Adelmar the Clairvoyant (‘a · del · mär)
Adelmar fell under immediate suspicion because it was supposed that his ability should have enabled him to presage and prevent the murder. At least, he ought, said the others, to discern now who the guilty party was.
Adelmar besought Erasmus the necromancer to summon the spirit of Chiara that she might reveal her murderer and clear Adelmar.
Erasmus refused on the grounds that he had no power over Chiara to command her return and that she had, moreover, moved beyond his circle of influence. His intransigence elicited accusations from Adelmar and suspicion from several others.
Adelmar retreated from the castle for fear of imprisonment or execution. His whereabouts are unknown, though an organized search was conducted. Adelmar’s ability to escape pursuit is uncanny, for he can see his fellows coming before they move.
Of Erasmus the Necromancer (ē · ‘ras · mus)
The necromancer, characteristically aloof and unsympathetic to the living, dwelt most remote from all others, in a place that was said to lie between the realm of mortals and the realm of the dead. His abode was sought only with difficulty and found only by good fortune.
Nevertheless, several of the Nine (Aleistar, Lorrcan, Helmold, and Freya) sought him after hearing from Adelmar of his refusal to summon Chiara. The three of them travelled to the Gloaming Mountain and quested separate ways. They reunited at camp after a week, and Aleister reported to have found the necromancer, who reported that Adelmar had made no appeal of him. When the possibility of calling Chiara’s spirit was broached to the necromancer, Erasmus told Alesiter that chance of success was minimal but that he would travel to the land of the dead to seek her.
When Aleister led Lorrcan, Helmold, and Freya to Erasmus’ chateau, the necromancer was gone.
Of Aleister the Mage (‘a · les · tər)
After descending the Gloaming Mountain, most of the party returned to the castle, but Aleister resumed pursuit of Adelmar the clairvoyant on his own. Cloaked with powerful magic and without hindrance from the other members, he hoped to elude the clairvoyant’s second sight.
He has been neither seen nor heard from since.
Of Morrigan the Shapeshifter (mor · ‘rēg · an)
The report from the Gloaming Mountain threw suspicion on Morrigan the shapeshifter, who might have impersonated the necromancer at either his meeting with Adelmar or Aleistar. It was further whispered that Morrigan and Aleister had not been seen together since the party went in search of the necromancer.
Morrigan donned the form of wolf and fled into the black forest.
Of Lorrcan the Druid (‘lor · kən)
The druid, a frequent visitor to the wilderness of forest, pursued Morrigan in hopes of compelling her to return. He was never heard from more, and it is in doubt whether he continues his pursuit to this day.
Of Athanor the Alchemist (‘ath · ə · nor)
Athanor appeared to care little for the state of the fellowship or the distress of the others of the Nine. The alchemist’s pursuit of the philosopher’s stone superceded all else, and besides, his reasoning went, when the stone were discovered, it should answer all else. He cloistered himself within his workshop and cooperated little with the others.
Of Helmold the Conjurer (‘hel · mold)
Helmold and Freya kept close to one another, alone, with all others beyond their confidence.
Yet in time, Helmold perceived that the two of them were often less than alone. It may have been only that the magic holding the castle together had begun to decay with the corruption of the fellowship, or it may have been that the castle was in truth haunted by creatures other than the two of them, but sounds of movement, of shift or change, wore at his nerves until they became as thin as thread.
Scrapes, groans, and creaks threw the conjurer into starts and fits. Before the first year’s end, he was driven to distraction and could no longer sleep. Mounting paranoia sent him hiding in corners and closets, biting at his fingers, and disguising himself with the abandoned trappings of the departed members of the fellowship.
Of Freya the Enchantress (‘frei · ä)
It was Freya who cast the nine keys which enable egress to the sanctum, also Freya who ensorcelled the lock and door. Notwithstanding her greater suspicions lay upon the other members of the fellowship, her unspoken fear was that her enchantments had failed and the sanctum was not secure.
Through all the waking day and of many a night, she laboured obsessively to discover whether the lock or door could be convinced by artifice to grant passage for any talisman besides the nine keys and if so, who might manage such artifice. If she is yet in the castle, probably she remains in her chantry, lost in her work.
Song of the Castle
Dear Mandragora’s sibling went
To dwell in dark with eyen yblent.
Though kith to deadly shades of night,
Interred by wont and out of sight,
It rests close by and in a bin.
‘Tis most benign of all its kin.
Abode of visions, dreams, and such
which lights and voice imbue
‘Ware faculties that see too much
in time shall come to rue
The advents past and yet to be
projected on the mind
Til all they ken and all they see
makes oculi purblind
Retreated to a land of ice.
Cold wills of anchorites suffice
To keep ears numb and spirits frore,
Encrusting eyes and lips with hoar.
To be lord of such snappy land
Within death’s still and chilling hand
The necromancer took his path.
His heels described a frigid swath.
In dexter he holdeth a willow staff worn
And sinister grippeth a rich harvest horn
Betwixt them a string bearing stars of the night
And shoulders and back with a green cloak are dight
And when he stands still all the nimble folk probe
In hopes of gains lost at the skirts of his robe.
Its face, both sides, are sanguine red
And forest green its pate.
Two horns upon its lofty head
And claws that number eight.
A frigid glare, a cocksure mien,
And spurs above its heels.
A creature now but rarely seen
Except at eve’ning meals.
Longtime lab’ring for his bread,
Seeking things to mix in,
‘Hind three gates and overhead,
Underfoot of vixen,
Shall the wand’rer come again?
— Except it be by hearse
Or necromancer’s eldrich wain,
Can spirits he coerce.
The athanor eponymous
Stands far below, upon a truss
Of kind-l-ing which waits its turn
To start the furnace and to burn
While hunched above, indeed hard by,
Ye artful men your trade do ply.
All close attentive to your mission:
Seek the keys of erudition
A chamber lies upon the grounds.
Within, reflected sights and sounds
Their feckless mimicry do ply
Neath light conducted from the sky.
And yet no hole in any wall
Nor window sash nor pane at all
Makes aperture for daylight’s glare
Nor justifies the curtain there.
And to the floor is fixed quite tight
A shallow well of porce’lain white.
A wee resort far down the wall,
Unoccupied but by the small,
Aye, ye salon ye nook supplied,
A crevice for a beast to hide,
The first place where ye cat would seek,
Be drawn by scent or sight or squeak.
The booklet should also contain a table of ASCII codes, a drawing of the treasure chest’s lock and key, and the following short poem.
Mark four brothers gaunt: all aslumber, each waits.
The third from the left carries dourest of fates.
To yield up their secrets the rest were forsworn:
The oldest, then youngest, and last, second born.
I furthermore included a number of red herrings in my booklet.