Blind Oracle of Torag
As the moon travels silently across the desert sky, a distant lupine howl splits the otherwise quiet night. Set beside a pair of large boulders, the campsite below is quiet with several dark forms huddled around a dying fire. Atop one of the stone windbreaks an unlikely pair sit, lit only by the stars.
As the howl is answered by several more, the smaller form begins to shift nervously. Looking around at the sleeping adventurers and then up at his larger companion the goblin stutters, “Aatos?” As he waits, the howls repeat again, this time closer. Seeing no reply forthcoming the small goblin stands and shuffles closer to the large man, daring to reach up and tap him on the shoulder to break his meditation.
Slowly the Suli returns to his senses and a smirk breaks out across his broad face, “ Yes, Grubby?”
Jumping up and down the goblin points frantically into the darkness toward the distant calls, “Aatttoss! Aattoss!”
“Haha don’t be frightened little one, the jackals will not come for us this night,” Aatos reassures, “There are worse things afoot in the desert tonight, me. I’ll protect us.”
Looking up in puzzlement, Grubby grins, “Aatos protect! Aatos! Rawr! Torag! Rawr!” Aatos chuckles, shaking his head. “Not quite, but it’s a start.” Looking out over the crags and mountains that he could not see but knew were there as surely as he felt Torag’s blessing upon him, a smile finds it’s way onto his face. “Sometimes, even I don’t always understand Torag’s intentions. I guess it doesn’t help that you can’t understand me.”
Feeling a familiar warmth at his chest, Aatos reaches a hand up to touch his worn holy symbol, shaped like the war hammer of Torag. At the edges of his consciousness, he begins to hear the whispers of the stone, the very bones of the world. Letting his mind follow the call of his god, Aatos begins to chant words of knowledge and understanding slowly tracing sigils with his medallion. In complete awe, Grubby watches as Aatos touches the stone between them causing it to promptly ripple like the surface of a pool. As the ripple passes through his tiny frame, he is suddenly bombarded by images from another place and time.
Deep underground a group of deep gnomes, the svirfneblin, guarded by large earth elementals travel along darkened tunnels when suddenly an earthquake causes them to flee. One of the earth elementals remains behind holding up a section of the tunnel, refusing to heed it’s master’s call. As the dust settles the deep gnomes return to see what became of their rogue servant, only to find a small child being sheltered by the stone behemoth.
The next scene is of the boy several years older, now known as Aatos, meaning “Of the Earth”.
Surrounded by other young gnomes the boy shows an astonishing affinity with all of the elements during his studies. Young Aatos is himself transfixed by the gnomes ability to speak to the earth and shape it to their will. Watching the mighty earth elementals they summon to protect his family and friends in times of need, with their amazing strength and bravery, he decides to push himself though harsh training to stand strong and focus his control of the earth around him.
Next a vision of the night that changed Aatos’s life forever. In a dream he sees a broad tall dwarf before a great forge, pounding at an anvil with a giant runed war hammer. Looking down at the boy, a voice booms from all around, “When the grounds quake and the world’s core rumbles, there at the center of it all shall you stand. When evil succeeds and you finally fall, others will carry you through to victory! Three must you find. He of the Waves, crashing and swift, controller of the sea. Though their haunted mind is a constant rift, their talent will give you insight. He of the Winds, who sails the gale winds . Though they are grounded and their flight has come to an end, your strength may answer their plea for freedom. And lastly, he of Flames, his anger and shame consume his thoughts and being. Ease his pain and restore his claim. He must be the last you find.” Young Aatos awakens screaming, as his adoptive parents rush to his aid, the last thing seen is the child’s eyes are now clouded over as if blind.
The image fades to be replaced by one of a slightly older Aatos leaving the Underdark and venturing out into an above ground world that is alien to him. His vision, blurry and faded from his divine encounter, hinders his progress until he stumbles upon a town of northern folk. Led by the harsh Ulfen tribe, the village begrudgingly accepts him into their community after he completes a series of trials, testing his strength and endurance. Here he finds his first temple of Torag, and there he learns the ways of survival, and begins to harness his god given powers by training by day and meditating on the mysteries of stone by night, knowing that a long road awaits him.
As the visions fade, both Aatos and Grubby slump down, trying to digest all they’d seen. Mouth open in shock Grubby turns to Aatos and says, “Wow… Grubby never see anything like that before. Not in village from shaman. Not even from scary winged kobold!” Then suddenly realizing his mistake, Grubby slaps his green skinned hands over his mouth, “Uh-oh…”
“Aha! So you can understand us! Bwahahaha!”, Aatos laughs. Grinning sheepishly Grubby shrugs, “Sometimes better, people think you can’t understand.”
“Well I think we’ve had enough revelations for one night. Get some sleep, we reach Daboya tomorrow,” Aatos says settling back to await the sunrise. Curling up in a blanket next to the larger man, Grubby yawns and rubs his eyes before laying down.
“Good night, Aatos”
“Good night, Grubby”
“Yes, Grubby?”, came the patient reply.
“Aatos…. Grubby glad Aatos not kill Grubby. Grubby glad Aatos nicer than other peoples Grubby meet. Aatos think if Grubby….”
“Does Aatos think maybe…maybe if Grubby pray to… to Aatos god also … maybe he be nice to Grubby too?”
“… Yes Grubby, Torag will be nice to Grubby too.”
“That nice, Grubby want to protect friends like Aatos someday.”
Within minutes the only thing the smiling Aatos could hear were the rhythmic snores of his friends, and the quiet song of the earth.