Hey, guess who is also crazy? Beatrice.
I woke up bound in ropes. Johann sat in one corner, rocking back and forth with her knees pulled up to her chest. The right side of her face sported a bruise the size of a gnome’s fist. That wasn’t a guess on my part, either, as weasel gnome stood before me in all his raging, manic glory. Beatrice had told him about my worship with Johann and how I had planned to sneak around without his permission, and how I had discovered his secret with Beatrice, whom he loved. Basically the man had serious anger issues. I wanted to chalk it up to his being so short, but he had powers that I believe rivaled what I had seen from even Tim.
We were in the room where I had been pushed to sleep by Beatrice. Now that I was clearly awake, I could see the manipulation she had done. I had let my guard down, and learned, to my chagrin, that she was more of a wizard than even Johann knew. She just couldn’t cast any flashy spells without a mouth or hands, but there were tricks she’d learned over the last six years that were both annoying and impressive. I would need to speak with Tim about how to protect my mind in future.
That thought got me a rap on the skull with Rufus’s walking stick. Johann was awake, so I know it wasn’t Beatrice reading my mind and telling Rufus anything, so it had to be his own abilities. At that point I tried to remember all the recipes Cook had ever made me memorize, the order in which I had to clear chamber pots at the monastery, and the breathing rhythm Liz had taught me. That last one was a bit of a hiccup, but I pushed through it.
Weasel gnome paced back in forth in front of me, smacking his walking stick into his open palm. He was angry, scared and frustrated and wanted to know how I was going to wreck things for him. The fact he had picked up Tim’s name in my mind only made his agitation worse. Seems he had taken a mind reading potion, which he ranted about, annoyed that I had cost him a rare tool. As long as I didn’t think anything too murderous, I would outlast this temporary power.
Johann was crying, which fueled my anger. I loathe bullies, and him striking her was a classic example of a more powerful individual mistreating a less powerful one. I, on the other hand, was nearly twice as tall as Rufus, and I had a righteous anger brewing. Also, while they had bound me in ropes, it didn’t stop me from talking. And you know how I love to talk.
So I began in a low, soothing tone, explaining to Rufus how I was no threat to him and how he needed to calm down and have a rational conversation. I pulled the tiniest trickle of divine, but he did not seem to notice. When he didn’t immediately turn and do something to stop me, I pushed further, drawing more divine power and pressing down on his anger. I had the ability to calm him if I was careful about the words I chose. I explained how I came to be here, my purpose and how I was also a student of history, and was fascinated by the ruins. I had to tread lightly because he started barking at me, scoffing at some of my comments, and growing agitated when he thought I had come to steal his discoveries. Academics can be so touchy.
I talked for so long, my voice started to give out. I needed water. Luckily, by the time I got to that point, he’d calmed down. He sat with his back to the door, blocking it from opening, and watched me with blazing eyes. I could feel the intensity of the intelligence that burned in him. I told him I was a cleric with powers to heal and even remove curses if he wanted me to have a go at Beatrice.
This brought forth bitter laughter. He was a powerful wizard. Of course he know how to break a curse. But he had not been successful. I think the act of offering started to sway his opinion of me. We sat quietly together for a few minutes and even Johann’s crying had finally stopped. She watched me, listening to my words, contemplating. After a bit, I coughed a few times and asked for water. To my surprise, Rufus waved his walking stick and my ropes vanished. I was a little stunned that my powers of persuasion had been so successful. I drank from my water skin and sat up, moving slowly, with my back to the wall right where I had been lulled to sleep. Then I began talking again, mentioning the various creatures I had fought to make it this far, and began speculating on the political alliances I perceived in this region.
Politics, next to research, turns out to be a favorite topic of Rufus weasel gnome.
I ran down the litany of factions as I saw them: the Children of Sseth, the hobgoblins allied with the psyflayer, Cassandra and her kobold minions, and finally the frog people and the lizard folk. He nodded, adding in comments as I went on, reinforcing my observations, or scoffing at my missteps.
It proved to be a rather enjoyable conversation. If he didn’t have such a hair trigger and a raging temper, I may have been able to stand being in the same room with Rufus weasel gnome. But, as I said earlier, he was a bully.
We talked about the demon summoning that had occurred two years ago (or so) before I was trapped in the planar bubble at the Stronghold of Kithri’s Fist. This intrigued him which brought us around to the planar rift that had allowed the ice giants through. Rufus actually wacked himself on the head with his walking stick. In hindsight, he claims, he should’ve realized what had happened. And he knew how to close the opening, but it wouldn’t be easy, and he had no time to deal with it. On the other hand, the giants had nearly killed Cassandra, which is a feat he didn’t think feasible. It made him think of other options. He agreed to release Alfred if I agreed to help him finish off Cassandra, just like Beatrice suggested. He was quite reasonable in his plotting of cold blooded murder of the dragon. Of course, she was a dragon, and an evil one. But it seemed unsporting for him to betray her.
I wonder if, perhaps, I over think things?