Back in Glimmer, we all crammed into a single room staring at Klotonk who wielded the Wand of Orcus thanks to the magic-nullifying gauntlet. The gnome sat on the bed, talking to the voice in his head, the voice from the wand. The rest of us watched, mildly concerned. Apparently there was a hero trapped inside, some old enemy of Orcus called Arcanocles.
“It’s in Asimba then?” Kolae asked, drawing my attention back to planning.
“Yes,” Maziel confirmed, “we need to find the Crown of Command so it can destroy the wand.”
“Isn’t there a time bubble there?” I mentioned.
“Klotonk can destroy it,” Maziel said, pointing at the wand.
“Aren’t you worried about Primus?” Odison interjected, looking to his sister.
“Who’s Primus?” I asked, producing shocked expressions from the goliaths.
Kolae turned to Maziel, who shared my question with a shrug.
Feeps clambered over and sat down beside me. “What is a Primus?”
Kolae leaned in, frowning. “What did that Inculbram ask for?”
“Good question…” I started. “I can’t remember.”
The goliath sighed deeply, then gathered everyone’s attention and retold us what we had apparently forgotten. The room fell silent.
I pressed my back against the wall and rubbed the bridge of my nose. “Soooo, we went from raiding a dead king’s vault to potentially fighting a deity.”
“You’re welcome,” Kolae added.
“All the more reason we get this over with,” Maziel finished.
I looked around the room at our motley crew and sighed. “First light then.”
Lysandra squeezed my hand as we settled on the floor like everyone else in this tight space. No one was taking that wand from us without a fight.
“Don’t worry,” I whispered to her. “I’m not asking you to stay behind again.”
She smiled wryly. “Oh, I know.” She kissed my forehead then turned over to sleep.
As soon as I closed my eyes I found myself wandering through the haze of my dreams. I was in Stilt Town, in the middle of the village. I could smell smoke, and when I turned around, the whole place was on fire. I know who was responsible, and I found myself begging for help all over. A handsome man in unfamiliar clothing ran over; he felt familiar somehow. He grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me, ignoring the fires entirely.
“Taelim, you must go.” He said, pleading.
I turned to look back at the flames, uncertain. Then the ground shook, and I knew something heavy approached.
“Taelim!” the man cried again.
A shadow loomed over us. The man jumped in front of me, arms outstretched protectively, and I watched him turn to dust.
I looked up. Harthoon was standing there, as big as a castle. He laughed, raising one hoofbeat over my head. I swallowed, knowing what came next.
I jolted upright from my sleep, covered in sweat.
A cold hand clamped down on my shoulder. “Taelim?” Feeps whispered. “What is the matter?”
I wiped the sweat from my brow with a shaking hand. “We have to go. I think we’re almost out of time.”
We stood staring at the opaque bubble that encompassed the valley of the Asimba mountains. Frozen in time, thousands of modrons were stuck, mid-flight, over the bodies of countless simulacrum humanoids. Floating above it all was an island with a tower of glistening metal. Klotonk affectionately called it the Island of Misfit Toys, the home of Primus, and I don’t think he was kidding. When our wizard dispelled the bubble, each and every one of those modrons toppled to the ground in cacophony of clanks. As far as we could tell, they weren’t functioning. Nothing was.
We moved toward the mountain boundary, in the shadow of a colossal stone fortress that could have easily been mistaken for its own mountain. It was the home of the Asimba dwarves, like an iceberg, the rest was in the mountain below.
There was nothing stopping us from strolling right up to main entrance, nothing living at least, there were only the unmoving bodies of simulacrum. The toys of Primus. Inside the archway, the chamber opened into numerous passages. We stumbled across a service elevator of sorts, and we rode it down to the lowest floor. We traversed another empty tunnel, the biggest thus far. It led us toward a colossal set of double doors. The beauty and intricacy of the doors should have stopped us, but instead, a perfect circle burned through the door caught our attention.
Maziel approached it carefully, “The edges are hot…”
Swallowing our reluctance, we filed in through the hole and onto a huge balcony overlooking the city below. This time we faltered. The city of Asimba had to be the biggest I had ever laid eyes on. Towering buildings dominated this cavernous space in all directions, unconventional in every way. At the heart, over dark waters, the castle of former King Xee beckoned us.
As we crossed the bridge toward the king’s castle, ahead we could see another perfect circle in the door, its edge glowed red-hot. One of the Maziels took lead, with another in the back. The rest of us carefully followed into the palace’s gigantic foyer. The moment we entered, we found Primus.
The tall metallic figure had been climbing one of the grand staircases. Upon entering, it stopped and turned toward us, a single glowing green orb in the center of its face trained on our location. With unhurried footsteps, Primus moved in our direction.
“Identify,” a deep, droning voice demanded. “Identify.”
None of us responded.
The green light sweep over us, and Primus went rigid. “Templating.”
We exchanged uneasy glances.
Then something strange happened. Primus’ form slackened. It lifted its head and spoke in a voice I recognized. “Templating complete.” It was using Feeps’ voice, and I could have sworn, it gestured the same way my caretaker did.
“Unsettling…” I heard Feeps say beside me.
“My former template was erased.” Primus continued in Feeps’ voice. “My network disconnected.”
Ahhhh, that explains why the simulacrum weren’t moving.
Suddenly, its head locked onto Klotonk, the orb scanning the wand. “That item does not belong to you. Concede it immediately.”
Klotonk cocked his head. “That took a weird turn. Um, no.”
It happened far faster than any of us could predict. With a blinding light, my body was writhing with pain, and I could hear the others crying out. When I opened my eyes, a translucent wall boxed us in the room and Primus had ripped the wand from Klotonk’s grasp.
“No! What are you doing?” Klotonk called out while the rest of us went to work.
From one of the staircases, I heard a warcry as a red-headed kender flipped into view. We might have all be shocked at Cosmo’s return, if weren’t for the fact Primus had just taken one of most powerful artifacts in existence.
Unthinking, I changed into a giant crocodile and clenched onto the arm holding the wand.
Primus looked down at the reptile that was me dangling from its arm, then Primus proceeded to target the others. Arrows bounced off its metallic frame and Klotonk pleaded with Primus through the din of back and forth combat. With another flash, and more pain, the wand was gone.
“It has been removed from this plane. Mortals should not dabble in such artifacts.”
“You can’t, it has to be destroyed!” Klotonk yelled back, I could see his fingers itching to trace spells into the air, but I think part of him knew the truth. We were outmatched.
A blast of radiant energy smashed into Primus, and it didn't seem to notice. I continued to clamp down on the arm, despite the wand already being gone from existence.
“Logic dictates that is impossible.” Primus declared, unmoving.
“Not impossible!” Klotonk said, slamming down the gauntlet. Primus’ orb swept over the item, and for a moment I thought it actually hesitated.
“Stand down.” Primus said simply, raising a single hand.
I got the feeling this was our final warning.
“You stand down!” Klotonk demanded, as furious as I had every seen him. “We’re here to get the Crown of Command and destroy the Wand of Orcus.”
Primus didn’t move.
The gnome was panting, and the rest of us stopped, including me. We just waited. Klotonk pointed to the gauntlet. “It lets me hold the wand, we know what has to be done. Arcanocles said as much.”
Primus lowered his hand. “You are being deceived, mortals. Arcanocles does not reside in the wand, but in the crown.”
Klotonk’s mouth formed an “O,” and then the very real possibility of being controlled by Harthoon set in. After all, the wand was his phylactery.
Primus loomed over Klotonk, examining the gauntlet. “The crown is in the king’s vault.” He pointed downward. “Do you have a Soul Monger?”
Klotonk shook his head slowly.
Primus stood still for a long moment, but none of us dared speak in that silence. Primus rattled out a list of coordinates and pointed in the direction. “Retrieve this object. If the phylactery is destroyed, it will trap Harthoon's soul. Then that, too, can be destroyed, and he with it.”
We didn’t need to be told twice. In this uncanny turn of events, we scoured the city for the object, returning like obedient children. Like a looming shepherd, Primus guided us toward the vault.
Even in jest, I’m pretty sure Xee’s horde might have matched the collected wealth of entire nations combined. Unfazed, we moved through chamber into chamber, bypassing traps and locks with Primus' help until the crown was before us. Primus summoned the Wand of Orcus back into existence.
Klotonk put the Soul Monger on the ground. Barely a graze between the two artifacts and they both disintegrated into ash. A hazy green energy was sucked into the monger, and Primus promptly obliterated it.
“It is done.” Primus said simply.
The rest of us were just happy we remembered to breathe.
It could have been bad, that’s what we told ourselves when we walked out of Asimba that day. We had come to learn Primus had basically been restarted, forgetting its old self and latching on to a random new personality, which was Feeps. That, in all probability, was why violence hadn’t escalated.
Strangely enough, Primus, with no desires except that of Feeps’, ended up at Illium. As regent adviser, Primus helped launch the kingdom into an unmatched age of civilization and advancement. Primus even rebuilt the titans better than ever.
So, what became of the rest of us? Well, after Primus we were heading off to find Graz’zt, but again Ornament Chaos beat us to the task. With that done, there were no more open threats to follow. We ended up chasing our own paths, but of course we remained friends to our dying days.
Maziel, to no one’s surprise, ended up marrying her other clone. They made each other very happy, in addition to some third-party love with that kenku, Beau. She never did use her boon to kill a god. I think after Lolth died, she was content to watch how Ellistraee led the drow. I ended up helping Maziel and the drow reclaim Solstice, where I was able to change the region's climate to their liking. Now, they had a home on the surface, and as thanks, they became allies of Illium and other cities of light.
Cosmo started another circus with his family, aptly returning to our roots by calling it: The Main Attraction.
Yaup ended up becoming a general for Illium.
Klotonk, to my great delight, became the Arch Magi of Invention. Oh, and he eventually found a girlfriend with the same passion for books and tinkering that he had.
Feeps lived as long as I did, becoming the Arch Magi of Melody. We both ended up serving Illium whenever it called us back.
As expected, I took up my father’s mantle and became the Arch Magi of the Hunt. I moved my father's tower closer to Illium, somewhere secluded along the coast. Killian and I ended up being close friends, getting over our differences now that we had chosen different paths. I still look after his heirs. In time, I worked up the courage to ask Lysandra to marry me. She gives me shit everyday, but I love her.
Sometimes I think about how it all started and where we are today. It never fails to bring a smile to my face to know my friends and I, in short, changed the world.