The Company of the Copper Card - Sloth Part 2

I awoke the next morning resolving to never again sleep on the hard, cold ground if at all possible. Every muscle and joint ached.

“We have a long day ahead of us to get where we need to go,” Alexiah said.

We stoked the fire and ate our meager fare. I offered some of my rations to the others though they declined. Groth went off to pray. He soon returned, not saying more than a few words to any of us.

“We should be able to make Dyvers before nightfall,” I said. “If we move.”

I told them of the road between there and Dyvers, the farms that dotted the lands west of the city, and such.

“Does anyone have any questions they want to ask the corpse?” Groth said.

“‘What happened?’” I said. “‘What did you do?’”


“They don’t have to be yes or no questions, do they?”

“No. The response can be a little cryptic sometimes. It’s not as if we’re speaking to the person, but it’s more like … the imprint of the person. It knows everything the person knows or knew.”

“Up to the time of their death?”


“Hopefully she’ll tell us.”

“I can ask five questions”

“Very well.”

“‘What did you do?’ ‘What happened?’ ‘Why did you cast that spell?’”

“I’m thinking ‘How did you die?’ or do you think that’s redundant as we know?”

“Well, if she wants to answer …”

“Or ‘What caused the being to come here?’” Alexiah said.

“I think if we say ‘What happened?’ I don’t know if that’s too vague,” Groth said.

“Right,” Alexiah said.

“All right,” I said. “All right. But if she wants to tell us …”

“Right,” Groth said. “What did you say that thing was called again?”

“A belker.”

“Maybe I’ll ask her why there was a belker in her house.”

We went to the corpse and removed he wheels near her head. Groth cast the spell.

“How did the belker get in your house?” Groth asked the corpse.

“I summoned it,” a voice came from the corpse’s mouth.

“Why did she summon it?” I said to Groth.

“Why did you summon the belker?” he said.

“To do housecleaning for me,” the voice came from the corpse.

“Perhaps you could ask her ‘Why a belker, specifically?’” I said.

“It’s wind,” Groth said. “I’m assuming she thought it would sweep it up, is my guess on that.”

“Ask her if she had a spell book hidden away.”

“Did you have a spell book hidden away?”

“Yes,” the corpse said.

“Where?” I said.

“Where is your spell book?” Groth said.

“Beneath the floor,” the corpse said.

“That’s four questions,” Groth said.

“We could spend another night here, if need be,” I said. “Ask her where under the floor.”

“Do we want to go this route or do we want to ask if she was up to no good?”

“If you want. She was always very polite to me.”

“Were you up to any evil tasks?” Groth asked the corpse.

“No,” the corpse said.

I went into the house to look for a loose flagstone on the floor. After a diligent search, I found a loose flagstone near the fireplace. I managed to pry it out and found a small recessed area below that held a small, wooden chest. I picked it up and carried it outside to the others, telling them where I found it. There was no lock or mechanism but the lid would not open. I cast detect magic upon it and found it magical, the magic being abjuration.

“This will probably require magic to open it without destroying whatever is within,” I said.

I also noticed, while the spell was active, that most of the armor and weapons of the dwarves were magical.

“I prepared dispel magic,” Groth’s Brother said. “Will that work?”

“Yes,” I said. “It could. Depending on how powerful her magic was and how powerful you are.”

I set it down and moved away from it. Groth’s Brother cast the spell. I returned to the chest and, making sure the box was facing away from all of us, opened the lid. Inside were two books, four small rubies, a robe, and a pearl. I found the books were written in magical runes, but casting read magic proved they were spell books. I skimmed through the spell books, saying out loud what spells were within as I flipped past the page. The books included arcane mark, dancing lights, detect magic, detect poison, disrupt undead, flare, light, mage hand, mending, open/close, prestidigitation, read magic, ray of frost, and resistance. There was also mage armor, magic missile, mount, protection from evil, summon monster I, and unseen servant. In addition there was arcane lock, knock, summon monster II, and web. Finally, there was flame arrow, summon monster III, and fly.

“Well, I wish she had been more forthcoming in her answers,” I said.

“I have no use for arcane magic, so …” Groth’s Brother said.

“Same,” Groth said.

I tucked the spell books in my satchel. Groth examined the rubies. I noted the robe and the pearl were both magical and related that to the dwarves.

“I’ve got a bag of holding,” Groth said. “I can hold onto these things if you’d like. When we get to a city, we can cash them out and split them up. I’m willing to do that fairly.”

“There’s probably not going to be a whole lot we can use, is there?” Groth’s Brother asked.

Groth noted they could be sold. I figured I would not see any of that money, which was fine by me.

“Would you be opposed to me carrying the rubies?” Groth’s Brother said.

“I would feel more comfortable just carrying everything in my bag of holding at this time,” Groth said.

He tucked the items we’d found into the bag he carried.

“Well, we had best be on our way,” I said. “We’re going to have to make good time to get to Dyvers by nightfall.”

“I may want to cast a couple spells in private,” Groth said. “I’m still having difficulty dealing with how things ended in the Iron Fortress and I need answers, so I’ve prepared some spells to talk to my god about what’s happening there. If you don’t mind, I’d like to do it in private and come back and let you know what I learn.”

“Um …” Alexiah said. “Can I walk with you to where you want to do this in private and then I’ll leave you alone?”

“Sure,” Groth said.

They walked away.

Groth’s Brother buried Andunna where we had the fire the night before. The ground there was not as frozen as the rest and the digging seemed relatively easy for him.

Alexiah approached Groth as he made his way from them. He turned towards her.

“Don’t worry, I’ll ask about Turk,” he said.

“Oh,” she said. “Okay. I agree we need to find out what’s going on with him but I’m not extremely worried about him at the moment. We will deal with that soon enough.”

“Oh …”

“Turk has expressed that you two want to reforge the sword and I’m torn about that. I want to help the slaves but I’m afraid of completing such a powerful and evil item. The smiths seemed to acknowledge that leaving them was for the greater good and were sacrificing themselves for that.”

“I do want to rescue the smiths and it’s been weighing on me heavily. I’m not sure exactly what to do and have been praying and meditating a lot about it. I’ll ask my questions and see if that helps clear anything up.”

She also told him of the strange voices she’d heard when she had picked up the sword in the Iron Fortress.

He made his way away as she turned and returned to the others.

Once he was alone, Groth cast a commune spell and asked several questions of his god. Many of them dealt with the Blade of Fiery Might, but a few were more specific towards his brother:

Is Turk under a spell that makes him covet items more? No.
Has something made Turk change in some way? Yes.
Was Turk charmed by the hands of someone we met? No.
Is there an item changing Turk? Yes.
Is the teleport helm changing Turk? No.
Is Turk currently wearing the item that’s changing him? Yes.
Will removing the item stop changing Turk? Yes.
Is the item that is changing Turk easily visible? No.
Is the item a necklace? No.
Is the item that’s changing Turk from an adventure with us that we received treasure from? Yes.
Is the item that’s changing Turk a ring? Unclear.

He also cast a sending spell to contact Orrin Thundercleaver, but didn’t receive an answer to his liking.

Groth returned after some time. He looked more despondent than ever.

“Are you all right?” I said.

“I’ve been better,” he replied. “I’ve been better.”

“What’s the matter?”

“Alexiah … uh … I think we should fill in Bartleby a little more about the Iron Fortress.”

“Let’s walk and talk. We’ll have to make time in order to reach Dyvers before dark.”

“Is that part of the answer that you got or … you just …” Alexiah said.

“No, I just feel like, if we’re going to travel with him, he should know,” Groth said.

“He should be aware of all the threats that are available.”


I looked around nervously as we began walking.

“Another reason we went to this Iron Fortress is there was a very powerful weapon that was being made there,” Groth said. “It’s the Blade of Fiery Might.”

I had heard of the blade. Believed to be lost, it was once the blade of mighty efreet, the Grand Sultan of the Efreet. Created by efreet wizards, it was destroyed by the djinn and the pieces scattered throughout the outer planes. The deadly blade could even affect its wielder.

“Oh,” I said. “I’ve heard of that.”

“So, the battle went poorly but I tried to plane shift us to get the slaves out of there, but they were held by a wish spell,” Groth went on. “Before we did so, we were able to grab the sword and get out of there.”

“The Blade of Fiery Might?”

“Yes. It was not completed and there’s still some shards left, but it is very close to being done.”

I looked over the dwarves. The Blade of Fiery Might was said to be a massive weapon and none of them seemed to be carrying a sword at all.

“So, we … we obviously succeeded in the fact that we got it out of the hands of a very powerful and evil individual named Imperagon,” Groth went on.

I had heard that name before as well. He was a duergar of great power and magic. I hadn’t heard he was in Acheron, but thought he was somewhere in the Underdark. I raised my eyebrows in recognition.

“Imperagon also has with him a pit fiend and he had quite a few other powerful creatures,” Groth went on. “We were able to take out a hydra, a storm giant. But, we circumvented the fortress and went straight to the slaves and that’s when everything went awry and we didn’t fight anything so that’s why he still has most of his forces. I’m … concerned that he can track us, that he might be able to find us, maybe communicate through the sword.”

He looked at Alexiah and Groth’s Brother.

“Alexiah told me just a little bit ago, when she grabbed the sword, she could hear voices in her head from it,” he went on. “So the sword sounds intelligent.”

“Yes, the sword can influence those who hold it,” I said. I looked over them all. “Where … is this sword?”

“We all have bats of holding. So, it’s in our possession. It’s in one of our bags of holding.”

“Well, that’s extra-dimensional. It shouldn’t be able to be tracked so long as it’s within the bag. It’s another dimension.”

“Right. I didn’t really think so. So, I get to this because I asked my god several questions. My first was: ‘Will it be easy for Imperagon to track us down?’ The answer to that was ‘no.’ Second was: ‘If we complete the sword, can the slaves be rescued in the Iron Fortress?’ He said ‘yes.’ I said ‘Can Imperagon communicate with the sword remotely?’ ‘No.’ ‘If Imperagon is away from the fortress, can he communicate with his forces in the Iron Fortress?’ ‘Yes.’ That could be a sending spell. I don’t know how easy it is. I don’t even know if … they gave chase. I don’t know if they’re necessarily back there yet or not. I also asked if the fire elementals were still alive in the Iron Fortress. He said ‘yes.’ I asked if they were necessary, if basically the heat from them was necessary to reforge the sword quickly. ‘Yes.’ Then I asked him ‘Have the forces left the fortress since we teleported out with the sword?’ ‘No.’ “Do we have enough time to finish the blade before anyone checks on the smiths?’ ‘No.’ ‘Can we avoid the blade golem if we teleport into the forge?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘If we don’t attack the blade golem, will it leave us alone?’ ‘Yes.’ And then my final question was ‘Is the sword intelligent?’ ‘Yes.’”

He looked us over.

“I then followed up by doing a sending spell to Orrin Thundercleaver,” he went on. “He was one of the smiths in Greyhawk and is now one of the slaves in the Iron Fortress.”

I knew the name Orrin Thundercleaver. He was a great weapon smith from the City of Greyhawk. He was very well known.

“So, I sent a message telling him ‘This is Groth Stoutbrew. What is the status of the Iron Fortress? Respond as concisely as possible. We are still trying to rescue you.’ His response was ‘Torturing everyone for answers. I’m sorry, my friend: they know your names. They know Blasingdale. Fortress is preparing to hunt you all. Don’t come.’ So … I don’t know how much time we have. I don’t know if … obviously he can’t easily track us but we have to figure out what we’re going to do with the sword. I don’t know how we’re going to … I had thoughts of potentially getting back into the fortress, using some magic, and trying to complete the sword if they had vacated it. I also had thoughts if we had some object with a silent spell on it by doing it quietly, if they would check on them before we could finish it, but that’s going to be negated. I … I can’t … I’d have to meditate on it more, but I don’t know of any way to rescue them right now. I don’t know that we have the power to do so. And … it’s sounding worse for them and … it could be bad for us at some point soon if they’re going to be looking for us.”

“Could we finish destroying the sword?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” Groth said. “I believe it took some powerful creatures to destroy it in the first place and dispense of the shards all around the universe is what we were told before.”

“Do you have any powerful friends? I know you’ve dealt with the temple of Hieroneous in Greyhawk.”

“Yeah, I mean …”

“What about the Wizard’s Guild?”

“I think the only members of our party that were members of the guild are currently not with us.”

“If it’s this important, perhaps even the Circle of Eight might want to get involved.”

“I don’t know.”

I told them what I knew about Imperagon.

“Who is the Circle of Eight that you’re referring to?” Groth said.

“The most powerful wizards in the world,” I said. “Mordenkainen. Otto. Tenser.”

“I mean … I did prepare divination as well, and I could ask, maybe, what are best options are with the sword?” Groth said. “What we should do with the sword?”

“Are these yes or no questions as well?”

“Divination: no. It would give me a more cryptic response to it, but it would give me more of a response than a yes or now.”

He turned to Alexiah.

“Alexiah, what else did … you told us more of what you and Falstaff had found out from the drow in there,” he said. “What exactly did you say again, because I’m just wondering if we need to keep the sword or if we need to destroy it. The Grand Sultan, where did he say he was: the plane of fire?”

Alexiah nodded.

“The blade was originally wielded by the Grand Sultan and believed to be a scimitar with a flaming burst attack,” she said. “When you hold the sword it surrounds the wielder in heat and injures them unless they are immune to it. There was a war between the efreet and the djinn where the djinn stole the blade and shattered it, scattering the pieces throughout the multiverse. That’s what I know.”

“Okay,” Groth said.

“So, when it’s wielded, it injures the holder.”

“Yeah, I thought you said more about the Sultan, but maybe not.”

“With that being said, we were talking about going to the plane of fire, correct?”

“We were at one point.”

I stopped walking.

“What?” I said. “Why? Why would you ever go there?”

“I’ll let Alexiah tell you the reasons why but … unless you care if I tell him, Alexiah,” Groth said.

“No,” she said. “I’ll interject if I feel the need.”

“It’s a hostile place!” I said.

“So, have you ever heard of the Hearth Mother?” Groth said to me.

“Why yes,” I said. “She led Clan Firemane, who were destroyed.”

“She … she borrowed the Horn of Hellfire at one time from a weird, a fire elemental,” Groth said. “So, the horn was returned to the plane of fire by the weird at some time. The horn is kept by Sultan Marrake, Lord of Flame. He has a palace in the plane of fire and is an efreet. We can’t survive on the plane of fire without magic but learned we could travel to the plane of fire by a portal. The items to keep us alive in the plane of fire are magical shards.”

“But the Sultan of the Efreet … he’s connected to the Blade of Fiery Might as well, isn’t he?” I said.

“That was what I was wondering,” Groth said.

I had heard of the Horn of Hellfire. It was expected to be the answer to help Clan Firemane defeat the giants, but when it was used against the fire giants, it was less effective than against other giants. The battle turned and the fire giants defeated the clan. Wielding a fire-based magical item against the fire giants only enraged them; they wanted it. The horn was believed lost during that last battle.

I also realized Sultan Marrake was connected to both the Blade of Fiery Might and the Horn of Hellfire. He had the Blade of Fiery Might for hundreds of years before the disagreement between the djinn and the efreet caused him to lose it.

I related what I knew about both magical weapons.

“So, my dilemma about the blade is … do we need to keep this and meet with the Sultan in order to get the horn?” Groth said.

“Does he have it?” I said.

“I don’t know. I just … if we destroy it then … I don’t know if that would … not help us find the horn. If we need him to find the horn for whatever purpose …”

“But he had it for hundreds of years. I don’t believe he’d pose any threat to the material plane.”

“Yeah, I don’t know if he got that, he would, all of a sudden … I would assume he’d enact vengeance on the djinn more than anything. Maybe we could – I’m getting ahead of myself here – if we were to give it back to him like you were hinting at, if he’s lawful, he would agree not to use it on the material plane as well. Make some side agreement as far as that goes? I don’t know. But this is what I’ve been contemplating and this is why it’s weighing so heavily on me: knowing what to do with the sword, avoid Imperagon, try to save the slaves, and know what avenues we have. The longer we wait, I feel like, sooner or later Imperagon and the pit fiend will find us. I just don’t know what our clearest path is now. I mentioned to Alexiah, I feel like we’re in over our heads right now. I feel like we’re taking on things maybe we’re not prepared for. We’re trying to circumvent these foes. It’s not like going into a cave full of goblins and wiping them out. We’re going against very powerful creatures and I don’t know if we’re the ones that can handle it at this point. So, I’m not sure what our clearest path is right now. But I feel like we are in danger and … I was just trying to get more answers about it. I can potentially ask more questions tomorrow if anybody feels like there’s something we should know, but … or I can do a divination spell, still today, if there’s some kind of path we need to lean towards.”

Groth looked at Alexiah.

“Could you understand the voice … from the sword, Alexiah, when you held it?” he said.

“No, it was … a guttural …” Alexiah said.

“I’m sure it was a very powerful voice that was speaking to her,” Groth’s Brother said.

Alexiah looked at him carefully.

“If it was an efreet made sword, it was their language, which is Ignan,” I said. “That’s one of the languages of fire and the efreet. The wizards would probably know it.”

“I can cast comprehend languages,” Groth said.

“Oh, there you go!”

“I would have to touch the creature though and I don’t know if touching the sword would count as that.”

I turned to Alexiah.

“When you picked the sword up, how did you pick it up?” I said. “By the hilt?”

“By the hilt,” she said.

“Did you ever just try lifting it up by the blade?”

“Uh … no, because I was trying to get it out of there as soon as possible. I picked it up and put it on my person and got out.”

“The comprehend languages might allow you to understand it …”

“It might give us some insight …” Groth said.

“You’d still have to pick it up,” I said.


“Are you … willful? Do you have a good strong force of independent thought and will?”

“I’d say one of my strengths is my mental fortitude.”

“Then you’d be the one to possibly try to communicate with this sword. Do you have the spell prepared?”

“I do.”

“You wouldn’t even have to take it out of the bag.”

“This is true.”

“Cast the spell and reach in and grasp it. Simply an idea.”

“I don’t know if opening the bag subjects it to the material plane. I don’t know how that works. And would help them find it. Maybe we should be somewhere more secure than out here on the road. Dyvers. Is Dyvers very big? How big is Dyvers?”

“It’s a good-sized city. They have a wizard’s guild. They might have a room that is anti-magic or at least protects from outside scrying.”


“In which you could probably cast the spell and touch the sword and see if you can communicate with it. If it wants to be reforged and returned to its masters … uh … perhaps you could strike a deal with it.”

“Right. Yeah, that might be an option.”

“Or it might just be horribly evil and wants to cause as much destruction as possible, in which case it might want to get back together with Imperagon.”

“There’s a lot of what-ifs. If it’s not fully intact, maybe it’s not even – maybe … maybe it’s just saying a bunch of random nonsense too, until it’s fully formed.”

“So, if we could just back to where Groth was mentioning we feel … a little outside of our realm?” Alexiah said. “A little over our head with what we’re facing? Bartleby, you mentioned a Circle of Eight? Do you know how you would be able to be in contact with them to see if they are interested or is there a chain of how to get to them?”

“Well, some of them live in Greyhawk,” I said. “I suppose through the Wizard’s Guild you could contact them.”

“The other thing is … some wizards can be more difficult to deal with and they may just want to take possession of the sword for their benefit as well,” Groth said. “I don’t know this Circle of Eight. I don’t know if they’re benevolent or …”

“Most of the Circle are wizards,” I said. “Most are good. They are generally a force for good in the Flanaess.”

“That’d be my only fear with taking it to outside sources. We also are in need of this Horn of Hellfire for our purposes as well.”

“But it’s lost. It’s probably in the possession of the fire giants.”

“I’m just trying to think of people that can come alongside us if we feel like we’re not able to face what we need to in order to move forward,” Alexiah said.

“We were told the horn was returned to the plane of fire by the weird at some time,” Groth said.

He mentioned that information came from a book of Orrin Thundercleaver’s.

“Where is it then?” I said.’

“It’s in the plane of fire,” Groth said. “I don’t know exactly. From what was in the book, the Sultan again has the Horn of Hellfire.”


“So …”

“The Horn of Hellfire was lent to Clan Firemane.”


I looked at Alexiah.

“Do you want the horn?” I said.

Alexiah thought on that for what felt like a long time.

“The book of Orrin Thundercleaver said I had to return the Horn of Hellfire,” she said. “It was only on loan. It was only to be borrowed.”

“Right, but do you want it?” I said.

“I mean, it might be another step to you learning about your past too,” Groth said. “Maybe coming in contact with this horn would restore some memory. It would also restore you as the Firemane is also the thought about it.”

“But the question remains,” I said. “Do you want it?”

She thought on it for a long time.

“Yes,” she said.

“Well, you have something to trade to the Sultan for it,” I said.

“Well, so …” Groth said.

“Just consider that,” I said.

“More than likely the plane of fire would be plenty hot enough to forge the sword,” he went on. “I assume the Sultan could do it himself. The other thought is if he does that and he gives us the horn, would he want to exact vengeance on Imperagon‒”

“Right,” Alexiah said. “What are the consequences of giving him back the sword?”

“Maybe, talking this out, our best bet is to turn this over to the Sultan,” Groth said. “If they take care of this pit fiend and Imperagon and they reforge the sword and can inform us once that’s done, we could go back to the Iron Fortress and free the slaves then. So …”

He thought on that.

“We don’t even know if the Sultan will want to deal with us or if they’ll be contingencies,” he went on. “And, if we’re giving him the sword, shouldn’t the horn be an equal trade at that point?”

“Yes,” I said. “You would offer him the sword and ask for the horn in its place. I doubt it has much use to him anyway.”


“Fire on the plane of fire … is fairly useless.”

“Yeah. Especially if you’re made of fire. Even if you travel elsewhere.”

“If you come to an agreement with the Sultan, he will abide by it.”

“That’s good to know. Turk? Alexiah? Any thoughts?”

I guessed at that point Groth’s Brother’s name was Turk.

“Yeah, I mean … I think the Horn of Hellfire is definitely something we should work to get,” Turk said.

“So then, how fast do we want to try to travel to the plane of fire?” Groth said. “Or maybe we need to go to Greyhawk to get more information.”

“Or Dyvers,” I said. “There is a Wizard’s Guild there.”

“Or Dyvers. Right. We could also potentially ask them if they know, by keeping – I’m afraid of giving out too much information, as you can see, Bartleby, why we didn’t say too much to you about this, but now that we’re traveling with each other, I do not want to put your life at risk.”

“Isn’t my life already at risk just by being with you?”

“Well, I think before you had no idea.”

“Does that make any difference as to how much my life is at risk? If I know about it or not?”

“Oh. Well. I didn’t know exactly‒”

“You have a choice now whether you want to continue with us or …” Turk said.

“Well, we’re walking the same direction at this juncture,” I said.

“Right,” he said.

“So …” Groth said. “All right. It’s definitely something to think about.”

I asked him about their adventures and they told me the stories of how they met in the village of Copperpot and the strange occurrences there with ghosts and the strange woman under glass. They told me about traveling through Keoland and finding the strange combination of evil religions: Syrul, Erythnul, and Vecna. During their travels, they also met with the fabled Gregonius the Gambler. They also told me of reaching Blasingdale and the gates of Khundrukar.

I also spoke to Alexiah about her past. I noted her present axe seemed to be directly connected to the Horn of Hellfire. She told me she didn’t remember it but Orrin Thundercleaver had shown her a book that had no author listed. He had personally shown it to her. It had an illustration of Alexiah that looked exactly like her. The book told the story of the Hearth Mother and how she had to return the Horn of Hellfire as it was merely lent to her. She returned it to a weird that lent it to her and the weird took it back to the plane of fire to return to the Sultan. It didn’t say why it had been loaned to her. The end of the book had speculative information on how to retrieve the horn and that the author believed the Horn was kept on the plane of fire.

I wondered if the Horn had originally belonged to Clan Firemane but the book was mistaken.

She noted she had met one of the survivors of Clan Firemane beside herself: Kurel. Only 34 other dwarves survived the attack. He told her tales of the original Mother Firemane who fought with a fire axe and that she would come back to the clan. Kurel had been in Greyhawk but was traveling. I was saddened I wouldn’t be able to talk to the dwarf.

We reached the gates of Dyvers by dusk on the 16th of Sunsebb, 591 CY.