The Bones of the Night

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The Guvners have reams of knowledge, of laws and regulations in their carefully organized archives and repositories of dead wood and papyrus. The Bones of the Night is also a font of knowledge, but one far less organized and less regulated – this is where thieves, wizards, and knights of the cross-trade come to learn from the dead.

The Bones of the Night is a cavern complex among the catacombs near the Ditch in the foulest-smelling region of the prodigiously odorous Lower Ward. The entrance is a gaping hole
that fills an entire firegutted building; a ladder with rungs of bone leads down into the obsidian darkness. The chittering of rats can always be heard from the top of the ladder, though it fades whenever someone climbs down to the entrance salon.

The salon is richly decorated with the grave goods of a hundred thousand wealthy deaders: plush chairs, thick layers of tapestries, and burial shrouds. Officially, every tout who’s asked the Master of the Bones for permission to lead the curious on a brief tour has been turned down, but in fact the wererat servants often look the other way for a little garnish, or help the tout for a little more. In return, they lead the lucky visitors on a quick, chittering walk through the catacombs to the Chamber of the Reaper, where the bones of the dead decorate the walls and ceiling in elaborate patterns. The Master of the Bones usually animates one of the skulls to scare off the trespassers.

The Master of the Bones is Lothar the Old a feeble-looking bearded man with a face full of wrinkles and a mind full of secrets. Called simply “Master” by his servants and many of his visitors, stones say that he is too wise for death to come near him, though others say that he has already foretold his own death, which will come through a gift given to him by a loved one.

When a supplicant comes to him with a question, Lothar negotiates his fee, then goes to gather the answer by consulting his “library” of skulls. After all, the dead are experienced, knowledgeable, and unable to lie. Factols, master thieves, mummies, and the master of the stonemasons’ guild compose but a fraction of his collection; the king of the rag-pickers, a sane slaad, and a true tanar’ri are also prizes on his shelves. What most cutters don’t realize is that the Master of the Bones is a necromancer-priest who uses the nature of the questions asked as a source of information for himself.

When he’s presented with a skull by one of the resurrection men who sometimes bring him their most important finds, Master Lothar offers what he considers a fair price – after all, few others have the skill to use the skulls as anything but paperweights. Prices vary from 1 gp for a wise servant with a single valuable story to tell to 10,000 gp for a factol’s skull taken from
the mausoleums and crypts beneath the faction headquarters. Chant is, the Master of Bones is currently looking for the skulls of Shekelor, who defied the Lady of Pain, and Imendor, the last priest of Aoskar, who knew the plans of his god (and died for them).

The Master is hardly alone in his catacombs. His best assistants are wererats, on loan from Tattershade, the King of the Rats, who gains valuable information in exchange for the loan of his servants. The rats scurry off into the catacombs in search of particular bones when a question requires more specific information than his library can provide.

The entire complex is guarded by a powerful stone golem shaped into the form of an enormous ghoul, complete with sharp claws and flickering black tongue. This golem stands constant guard over the Master’s library of skulls and his new acquisitions. An eldritch fire in its heart animates it; some say that when the Master dies, the fire will go out as well. Until then, the golem is justly famous for stopping thieves and expelling rude guests. No one has given it the laugh, at least not yet.

Master Lothar is trying a new experiment: creating a magical spigot that he hopes to install in corpses to drain a knowledge potion from each. By imbibing these draughts, he hopes to gain even greater wisdom

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The Bones of the Night

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