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The Saving Throw
Contest Entry Aug. 23, 2006
Gaming moments with multiple endings, but only one is the real ending.

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Lorne's Secret
  contributed by Nwash

This story comes from an adventure in what my friends and I call the "Arctic Campaign" since that is the region where these adventures take place. This adventure was using the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, Second Edition rules. I was playing a female enchantress of noble birth, Maya, who was sent to study under a powerful mage in charge of a keep here. She believes she was sent because of the political difficulties arising from the discovery of her true parentage. While she is indeed the daughter of an influential nobleman, his wife is not her mother, as that marriage is one purely for political advantage. Maya's true mother is her father's true love, a fact that has been kept secret until recently. Thus, Maya believes she was sent away in order to keep her safe and in an effort to reduce the political pressure her father is receiving.

Growing up in an environment where blackmail is one of the commonly-used tools of statecraft, Maya had long ago learned to be nosy, as embarrassing secrets could be the key to political survival in her home. As her new mentor, Lorne, was a man of mystery, she was naturally inclined to be nosy. Not too much was known about Lorne except that he came to the arctic in a party of adventurers which had since split up. Lorne somehow acquired this keep and allowed many people to live here. His goals and even his alignment have not become clear yet through the game.

Thus, Maya decided some snooping was in order. Lorne lived in the largest tower of the keep, and this is where Maya was staying as well. He had only forbade her from entering one room, and as that room was guarded by a statue whose eyes followed her as she walked through the room, she wasn't willing to investigate that room yet. Everywhere else in the tower seemed to be a valid place to snoop while Lorne was away, though. Her first discovery was a letter located in his bedroom from her father. Upon reading it, she discovered that Lorne had requested the opportunity to train her, and her father had agreed. Unfortunately, this discovery only led to more questions, as the letter gave no indication of the reason Lorne had requested her as an apprentice.

Her resolve now doubled, she resumed her investigation of the tower. She didn't find too much until she descended to the bottom floor, where by sheer luck, she discovered a hidden trapdoor leading to a concealed basement. Down here, she didn't find much of interest at first. It appeared to be a simple, empty basement with a pillar in the middle of the room. She didn't give up, though, refusing to accept that this hidden basement held no secrets for her to learn, and her diligence was rewarded when she finally discovered a disguised lever. Pulling it caused a hidden compartment in the center pillar to open up.


 Which ending is the real one?

A.

Maya immediately screamed in terror as a disembodied eye looked at her from inside the pillar. She couldn't move, as this was the still-living eye of a dragon and she was not of sufficient level to resist the fear aura it generated. All she could do was continue to scream in terror, trembling as the eye looked at her. Lorne was quick to arrive, somehow alerted to this situation, and he quickly closed the compartment, freeing Maya from the effects of the fear aura.

Lorne was strangely calm about the entire affair, showing no signs of offense or anger over Maya's snooping. Instead, he simply explained that his group had encountered the dragon that owned this eye on the journey up to the arctic regions long ago. They had been unable to defeat the dragon, but during the battle, they were able to cut out the dragon's eye and force it to retreat. Since Lorne feared the dragon may return, he kept the eye as a method to get an early warning if the dragon was to come close, and it also served as a way to determine if the dragon was still alive or not. After making sure that Maya was alright after this bizarre experience, Lorne simply left and returned to what he was doing, again never showing any sign of anger or surprise.


B.

Maya looked to see a strange orb in the pillar with swirling patterns of energy inside it. She looked at it for a while, considering whether or not to try to magically identify it. As the Identify spell was a time-consuming spell, though, she finally decided to risk touching the orb. Immediately, she began to see outside the keep from a high altitude and quickly realized that she could move her perception to see any place she wished at astonishing speed. Curiosity drove her to explore the world, but after several minutes, she suddenly felt herself being pulled toward a distant place, being unable to resist. She couldn't get her hands to release the orb, either.

Suddenly, she found herself looking at Lorne's face while Lorne was tightly holding her wrists. He had clearly wrenched her hands away from the orb, and he began to explain that another of these orbs was in the possession of one of the Nockmare, an evil army made up of the undead. He told her that if she had arrived at whatever destination she was being pulled, she likely would have become undead herself and forced to serve them as a lich. He kept the orb as he would occasionally risk using it to keep tabs on them, and by keeping this orb, it stayed out of the hands of those who couldn't resist the pull of the enemy. Without any sign of anger or offense, he calmly warned her not to use the orb again. He then simply closed the compartment and led her out of the basement, after which he left to continue what he had been doing.


C.

Maya saw an orb inside the pillar which seemed to be showing people walking around in a vast city. She reached to pick up the orb so she could get a better view, and suddenly, she was there in the city that she had seen. Quite surprised and not knowing how to return to the keep, she began investigating the city. Seeing a symbol consisting of three crowns with a sword through them on a flag, she immediately realized that this city was Nevermore, which was impossible unless she had also traveled through time, as Nevermore had been reduced to ruin in a great battle a thousand years ago. When she saw a dragon fly overhead, it dawned on her that the final battle was about to begin, and she immediately sought shelter.

As soon as Maya found a good place to hide, a young girl walked up to her, showing no signs of concern. "You're not supposed to be here," she said calmly. The girl touched Maya, and she was suddenly transported back to the basement of the keep. Lorne was there, waiting, not showing any sign of anger or surprise. He explained that he kept the orb solely to observe Nevermore. It was well known that entry into Nevermore was forbidden by the gods since the battle that had destroyed it. Maya was quick to realize that the young girl who had sent her back was the avatar of Tempora, the goddess of time. Lorne warned her not to touch the orb again, as even the kind Tempora wasn't going to look favorably on a return trip. He then closed the hidden compartment, led Maya out of the basement, and then returned to what he was doing.


Results for this Contest Entry
The correct ending was A.
There were 5 total guesses made. 1 were correct and 4 were incorrect.
The author would get 16 points for this story if he wasn't hosting this contest. (3 points + 2 per incorrect guess)
Those listed below get 11 points for guessing correctly on this story. (3 points + 2 per incorrect guess)
   Macstorm


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