Thrice The Brinded Cat
A little over 75 years ago, the gnomes of Jzadirune were devastated by a plague of unknown origin or cure. It began when Gilmond Fuurlclover went home early.
Gilmond was as industrious a gnome as there ever was, and anyone who knows a gnome knows that they can be quite industrious, indeed. Gilmond was a middle-aged tailor who worked among fifty other equally industrious tailors in the fine clothes district of Jzadirune-Under-Cauldron—as the gnomes liked to call their cheerful city.
The Spring Jubilee was just one week away in Cauldron-Above-Jzadirune
- as the gnomes loved to call THAT city - and bards from all over Oerth were planning to be in attendance for the grand competitions. Just one week before, Gilmond’s tasker, a gruff old crone of a gnome named Gelronda Lichen, received a commission from a very special guest. Word had come in that Master Tam, a satyr from Queen Willowbough’s court, would be attending this years woodwind composition competition and he needed a very special outfit. As the Queen of Faerie has always deemed it so that satyrs not wear clothes, poor Master Tam did not have anything to wear (and besides, the Lord Mayor of Cauldron would not be pleased with a naked satyr running around in his city.)
So, as these things go, the order came down to Gilmond, and Gilmond only had one small problem with it – he had no idea how to make clothes for a satyr – let alone a satyr representing the Court of Faerie!
But problems like this do not stop industrious gnomes. It just makes them work harder. And work harder did Gilmond do! Day and night he worked, researching clothes for satyrs, and when that turned up nothing he researched clothes for goats, and then he researched clothes for small, stubby humans. And when he had researched enough, he began to design. He designed in his own office, and when that got too loud he went home and designed in his kitchen, and when that got too quiet he went to the forgeworks and designed there. He even went to the Glittergold cathedral and designed there, too. And when he had the best design, he went to the Jzadirune tailors, with their magical looms, and he commissioned the finest cloth and the finest thread. And then, Gilmond took his plans and his cloth and his thread and he went back to his office and begin to sew.
But Gilmond discovered that even industrious gnomes cannot go for more than a week without sleep, for an oppressive tiredness had come over him and he found he could not work. But, as we mentioned before, Gilmond was an industrious gnome and industrious gnomes do not let little things like sleep get in their way. So, he visited the priests and asked for help, and when they did all they could he visited the alchemists and asked for their help, and when they did all they could for his tiredness, Gilmond visited the wizards and sorcerers who dwelt in the darker parts of Jzadirune. And finally, Gilmond found he had no need for sleep, so he went back to his office and he began to sew, again.
And after four more days of solid work, the industrious gnome, Gilmond, had created the finest clothes any satyr has EVER worn. Of course, as we’ve already mentioned, satyrs don’t often wear clothes, so there wasn’t much to compare it to. But, Gelronda Lichen was happy when she saw the clothes, and as we’ve already mentioned, Gelronda was rarely happy. And Master Tam was ecstatic when he saw the clothes, except for the fact that his collar was just a wee bit too tight around his pudgy throat, and the happy Gelronda got gruff once more and gave the clothes back to Gilmond for adjustments.
It was during that fateful day, when Gilmond was part-way through adjusting the neckline of Master Tam’s satyr clothes, when he began to feel dreadfully ill. Gilmond tried and tried and then tried again to keep working, but over the last two and a half weeks of solid work, the gnome discovered that he was all out of industry. That was when the unthinkable…the impossible…the completely inconceivable happened…..and Gilmond simply went home.
When Gilmond arrived home, his wife, Buella, was shocked to see him so. She immediately noted how peaked Gilmond looked. Of course, it had been quite a while since Buella had actually seen her husband and she had begun to forget what he looked like, but she was absolutely certain he was considerably less peaked the last time she had laid eyes on him (whenever that was.)
Buella’s fears were confirmed when the priest, Papa Wentcog, showed up that evening to minister to poor Gilmond. The words that the good Papa used to describe her husband was, “Wan” and even “Translucent.” Buella was sure she had heard those words used before and felt even more sure that they roughly equivocated with the word “Peaked”, so she knew for sure that something was dreadfully wrong with Gilmond.
All through the night Buella and Papa Wentcog sat by Gilmond’s bedside, and all through the night the little tailor go progressively more “peaked” until around the earliest morning hour, Gilmond completely peaked out and disappeared – completely….vanished.
The next morning, word of Gilmond the Tailor and his horrible sickness spread through Jzadirune. It was not long after that when another case of The Vanishing
- as the gnomes began to call it - struck another victim; this time it was a young scribe. And then another gnome came down with the sickness, and then … well, then it was truly a plague as hundreds of gnomes began to fade away and disappear.
The priests and the alchemists and the mages and the wizards and the sorcerers and the scholars and even the King, himself, all tried to find a cure for the Vanishing Plague, but none could be found and over a thousand gnomes winked out of existence in less than a week.
It was about that time that the good King Beznod IV, realized his kingdom was lost and if he didn’t do something drastic and fast, every gnome in Jzadirune would simply vanish. So, the king ordered a complete evacuation. Some gnomes went down into the dwarvish lands of the Malachite Hold and some gnomes went up into the human lands of Cauldron. The king ordered all of the doors to be sealed and their mighty traps set. He ordered all secrets to be secreted and all valuables to be valued – and then properly hidden, and the good king waited until every last non-vanished gnome was free of the grand city of Jzadirune. And then, with tears streaming down his gnomish face, the king simply took a step back and closed himself in from the inside and he locked and sealed the city up tight.
The Moonhowlers have had some experience with the Vanishing. First, Kegan Ghelve warned them of the dangerous curse and explained a little of Jzadirune’s history before they headed down into the depths of the abandoned city.
They also discovered a Skulk who appeared to be in the last stages of the Vanishing as it’s translucent form tried to attack them.
The Moonhowlers deduced that Yathaub, the dark stalker, was also suffering from the malady, but it seemed that he had staved off the fatal effects for quite some time. It was unclear to them how long Yathaub had before completely vanishing, but he seemed to be still fairly corporeal and in good spirits when they saw him last.
They also have a theory that the Vanishing has something to do with the gnomes’ fondness for mixing arcane, alchemical and technological sciences. There is no proof to back up this theory, as of yet, nor have they discovered a cure.
Kenric has obtained a small vial of blood from the partially vanished skulk which he shall use for studying. The blood is semi-transparent.
Kenric also was hit by a jolting shock to his system (and some amount of nausea) after using a wand that he discovered in Jzadirune. He feels that the wand may have been trying to contaminate him with the Vanishing.
Finally, the Moonhowlers witnessed the image of a librarian of some sort in an apparent scroll storage room in Jzadirune. The image appeared in the middle of the room, looked at them and said, “I am Emirystul, Librarian of Jzadirune. The scrolls you seek have been destroyed to keep you and others from fading into nothingness. The curse of the Vanishing began here, in these mystic halls, and here it will remain. Be careful what you find, and mind whatever magic was wrought here.” And then the image disappeared.