”Few are those who truly understand the healing powers of the mind…” commented Senior Guildmage Lutto, as his eldritch power reached forth to summon a cool goblet of Vin d’Armont to his hand.
“I couldn’t agree more!” offered the Guild’s Master of Ceremonies, Redimere Napiform. “They even doubt basic magical theory, when it is clear that magic is itself what defines reality. The nobles are little better than rude mechanicals in that regard. They refuse to believe in anything that they don’t see with their own eyes.” He regretted his decision to wear red flannel swimming slops, when his purple ones with the stars and glyphs upon them were so much more… wizardly. The other guildsmen might be sworn to secrecy, but people would talk. At least he’d worn his good hat.
“Well, they’re not seeing THIS!” Lutto exclaimed, as he gestured expansively about the Chamber of the Mind. “I’m not sharing this with the unmagical rabble!”
“Well said!” uttered Redimere, and both men drained their goblets. Light from the pool’s crystalline depths danced on the cavern ceiling as their movements made ripples in the warm water.
In the Time of Titans: The Death of Alturgerax
In the Age of Titans, when legends walked the land, few dragons inspired greater terror than the dreaded Alturgerax. Able to annihilate armies, he single-handedly brought ruin to the mountainous lands northwest of Tir Earrach. No arrow could puncture his impenetrable hide; no sword could reach his vitals; no warrior could survive the deadly acid of his breath. The beast seemed invincible.
Called by the land’s need, a man of destiny appeared. Fresh from his triumph over the Tyrant of the Gigai Flamme, the famous mystic Parmiphanes chose to challenge the awesome beast’s reign. Armed with incantations of heretofore unequaled power, he traced the dragon to its cavernous lair. Deep in the heart of the terror-filled mountains, the two legends faced off.
As was traditional, the duel began with an exchange of riddles. The pair wrangled or hours, mystifying each other with enigmatic puzzles and wordplay. In the end, the dragon was forced to acknowledge Parmiphanes as his master. Its life might have been spared, if it had not chosen to continue the duel at that point. Lethal acidic breath filled the cavern as the dragon treacherously struck at his triumphant foe.
Fortunately, Parmiphanes had prepared a defensive charm against just such a betrayal: The Bronze Sphere. It summoned a thick sphere of gleaming bronze, adorned inside and out with ornate glyphs and patterns. Not only did this rapidly-erected defense shelter him from the dragon’s deadly breath, but its copper-rich metal reacted with the acid, filling the cavern with billowing clouds of toxic gas. The dragon resisted the toxin’s effect, but was briefly distracted, choking and gasping amid the foul fumes. It was thus unprepared when Parmiphanes, hidden within his sphere, struck the cavern’s floor with his staff. The legendary mystic’s rune of striking drove a powerful shockwave throughout the stone chamber. The cavern roof collapsed, crushing the dragon beneath hundreds of tons of fallen stone. Safe within his metallic sphere, Parmiphanes survived the collapse, but the dragon was slain.
Parmiphanes' magic allowed him to escape (after summoning earth spirits to retrieve the dragon’s treasure), but the cavern’s location and the dragon’s remains were soon lost, legends of a legendary age.
Parmiphanes’ Bronze Sphere
This little-practiced conjuration summons a massive sphere of bronze around the caster. The particular alloy called by the spell is extremely solid, resembling carbon steel more than bronze. The gleaming sphere is covered with strange glyphs and engraved decoration, gleaming patterns unique to each sphere. It is said that these markings reveal hidden secrets of the caster’s mind. Very resistant to damage, the summoned sphere's material is permanent, with no means of ventilation or egress. A careless mage could easily find himself trapped within his own spell’s effect, unable to escape and with his air slowly running out. Additionally, the spell requires a valuable pearl as a focus, which is absorbed in the metallic matrix. While the gem can be retrieved, the labor of searching for the pearl and excavating it from the material afterward discourages many enchanters.
The Caverns of Alturgerax
Deep in the mountains, what was once the lair of Alturgerax has become a series of smaller caverns, many still holding the ossified remains of the ancient dragon. (Like many highly magical creatures, the remains of dragons fossilize very quickly, transforming into stone within a few decades of burial.) Protruding from the flowstone of the walls, the mineralized ribs and other bones of the dragon can still be seen, twisted and broken by the cataclysm that brought its death. The final chamber of these caverns is the Chamber of the Mind, where the massive dragon’s skull can be found, a few yards from Parmiphanes’ sphere of dented and age-verdigrised bronze. The top of the ancient wyrm’s skull has been cut away, revealing an eerie sight: The massive cavity that once held the dragon’s mind is now lined with bizarre glowing crystals, resembling a geode of strange azure minerals. These minerals are uncomfortably hot to the touch, and give off potent magical radiations. In a moment of odd inspiration, one of the wizards that rediscovered this eldritch place sheared the top of the shattered skull off evenly and filled the huge cranium with water, which is kept pleasantly warm by the strange radiations of the crystals within. After adding a few seats fashioned from the yellowed fossil ivory of the ancient dragon’s claws, they had devised the land’s most powerfully magical… hot tub.
The Power of the Mind
A closely-held secret of the Wizards’ Guild, this isolated place of healing has become a retreat for the guild members when the stress of their duties has preyed upon them. Within the Caverns of Alturgerax, they secretly relax and enjoy the healing waters of the Mind. The magical radiations of the healing pool seem to erase many of the ills associated with their age and scholarly lifestyle: Arthritis fades, vision sharpens, digestive disorders vanish, balding pates fill in… While it’s not a magical fountain of youth, it does much to alleviate the ailments of the elderly.
Unfortunately, the magical power contained in the mind of an Elder Wyrm is hardly limited to helping sore backs. Some portion of the dragon’s evil spirit filters into the cantankerous wizards’ thinking. Bit by bit, as they soak within Alturgerax’s mind, they absorb some of the beast’s cunning, its boundless avarice, lust for power, and cruelty. While the wizards are a stubborn and resistant lot, many are starting to gaze covetously at each others’ precious magical accoutrements, starting to harbor secret grudges, or wondering what magical power might be gained from destroying old rivals and seizing their most deeply-hidden lore.
It is not wise to delve into the secret hearts of dragons…