The Alchemists' Quest
Throughout his Alchemist travels, Baal has been on the lookout for slave traders. He keeps hoping to find clues about his childhood friend, Spectra, who was captured by slavers. He was always taught it was water or dark tribes that do the slave trading but the only slaves he found in his travels were in the fire lands. There are some slaves in the shadowlands around Koyu but only those that can see in the dark and survive without sunshine. However while poking around he gets a lead on a slaver near Fort Briggs that has connections that trade in the light races. He decides to track this Dwarf down to see what he knows.
Baal can tell the Dwarf is misleading him at first but after the bluff/diplomacy he comes around and tells him of an albino elf named Thanlil that is a little obsessed with light colored things and people. If anyone would have a slave with white hair, it would be him. He lives on an isolated estate in the Fire Titan lands. But he doesn’t like to part with his things so he’s not sure Thanlil is willing to sell.
Baal heads to the albino elf’s estate and after scoping it out, he finds it heavily fortified and impossible to sneak into. However, he does discover that supplies are brought in by a small supply boat about once a week. The boat goes into a cave on the coast and docks in the basement of the estate. The boatman is a nice elderly man that has never been happy with the way the albino treats his “servants.” He does remember the pretty white haired girl, she’s always nice to him. Baal is insightful enough to believe the old man is telling the truth and so the two devise a plan to sneak her out. Baal will sneak in with the supplies and meet up with the girl then get them both into the empty barrels being shipped back so they can escape. They only have a couple of hours while the boat’s being unloaded and reloaded.
The day of the plan, Baal is stuffed in a barrel and loaded onto the boat. They get through the security checkpoint and arrive at the dock. However the old man is surprised to see Thanlil waiting for them there.
“Where is your little stowaway?” he asks the old man.
“My lord!” gasps the old man, “I, um, don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You’re a horrible liar. You know who I’m talking about. It’s her friend that’s going sneak her away.”
At this point Baal pops out of the barrel since he knows the plan has failed. He sees an albino elf on the stairs leading up from the dock to the house. He’s hold a bruised and battered girl with platinum white hair that Baal recognizes as his childhood friend, Spectra. As soon as she sees him a look of relief, excitement, and fear crosses her face. She cries, “Baal! It really is you! You’ve got to get out of here, it’s a trap!”
“I don’t think he’ll be going anywhere without you, my dear,” says Thanlil as he strokes her hair. “She has been nothing but trouble since I acquired her but maybe I can make some money off of you. She is mine and no one takes my things. I throw them away when I’m done with them and I think I’m done with her.”
The albino pulls out a dagger and before anyone can react, slits Spectra’s throat. And throws her down the stairs.
“NO!” Screams Baal. “Spectra!” and a burning rage unlike anything he’s ever felt consumes him. Guards run in fear as he runs towards Spectra’s body. Flammable objects ignite as he nears them. He gets to Spectra’s body in time to hear her last breath. She looks at him and smiles and murmurs, “Baal, you came.” Then her eyes close and her body goes limp. Baal tilts his head back and screams, “NOOOOOOOO!” as a swirling vortex of flame engulfs the cave. The last thing Baal remembers before blacking out is seeing Thanlil’s smirking face incinerated.
Baal wakes up in a strange room in an unfamiliar bed. It appears to be inside a cave. As he sits up to figure out where he is, a flap is pushed aside from the cave entrance and a man enters. “Ah, you’re awake,” he says, “You’ve been out for a few days. Here, eat this.” He hands Baal a bowl of soup. As soon as he smells it, Baal’s stomach growls and he quickly devours the soup. As he eats, he studies the man. The man has wild white hair which makes him look older but otherwise he appears able bodied and strong, maybe 10 years older than Baal. “I put your things over there on the table,” he says as he points. Baal sees his staff and armor and other things seem to be there but also a lock of platinum blonde hair. When he sees it the memories come flooding back and he feels overwhelmed by anger. As he gets up and reaches for it, the temperature in the room rapidly rises. “Easy there! Don’t get too excited or you’ll burn everything again,” the man tells him. However once Baal touches the lock of hair, all anger melts away and is replaced by sadness. The heat dissipates and the man pats Baal on the back. “There, there. You’re an invoker of Kizil and Kizil is a god of strong emotions. All your life you’ve been able to control it more or less but something must have happened recently that destroyed your control. You’ll have to find some way to control it otherwise every time you feel a strong emotion you’ll incinerate everything around you. Lucky for you I happen to know a thing or two about this sort of thing. Rest up the rest of the day, tomorrow I’ll start teaching you some control.”
Baal starts asking questions like, “Where am I? How did I get here? What happened at the inferno?” but quickly feels nauseous and has to focus on not vomiting.
“This is why I don’t like people,” He says, “Too much talking. You’re in my cave, far away from flammable people. I brought you here. That old boatman came and told me you were going to burn down all the islands. Pshaw, you would have just burned up that one island but you know how superstitious people can be. I wasn’t at the mansion but it seems something broke your emotional control of your invoking. So all the fire of Kizil burned out of you at once. I’d wager it has something to do with whoever that lock of hair belongs to. Once you had it in hand your fire burned out. Luckily for you and everyone else on that island, that boatman dove underwater when you started going inferno and came and got me. Enough talking for now,” he finishes and walks outside.
The next day he takes Baal outside and far away from his cave (just to be safe) and starts teaching him how to control the raging inferno inside him. He encases the lock of hair in an amulet for Baal and has him wear it during training. Whenever Baal is starting to get too intense, he holds the amulet and his fire subsides and he can control it better. It takes several months before Baal can be around people again. His timing is good though because some people soon approach that need help.
The people of a nearby island have trouble. Their volcano is about to blow and wipe out their village. Roku agrees to help and tells Baal he’ll need help. The two of them hurry to the island and indeed, the volcano is spewing lava that is slowly making its way to the village below. Roku tells Baal to melt a new path for the lava so they can reroute it away from the village while Roku absorbs and dissipates the heat from it and cools it down. It takes hours but finally they manage to reroute the lava away from the village. However, as they complete the last part, Roku collapses from exhaustion and inhaling fumes. Baal manages to absorb a tremendous amount of heat from the lava and stop it from engulfing Roku but doing so weakens him and he falls into the lava instead. It’s hot but he doesn’t feel like it’s burning. He is overwhelmed though and closes his eyes.
When he opens them, he’s in an inferno that seems to stretch on forever but he feels comfortably warm. He hears a voice that seems to come from the fire say, “Well I have to admit, I’m impressed. I didn’t think your mortal body could handle this much power. When I come back I’ll have to remember this but for now I’m taking most of my power back from you. You can still invoke me and be my Flamespeaker but the power to control volcanoes should not belong to mortals. I suppose I shouldn’t have let you tap into that power in the first place but I wanted to see what would happen. I’ll send you back to your body now. There are some mortals that you should talk to.” As the fire talks to him it appears to be a woman dancing and in constant motion. Baal feels the fire inside him fading and as it does he feels hotter and hotter in the flames till he wants to scream and he blacks out again.
He hears far away knocking. He can’t move or open his eyes. The knocking gets louder and louder till there’s a crack and he can open his eyes and see again. He appears to be encased in pumice and people are chipping it away from his body. He’s washed up on a shore he recognizes. He’s actually back home in Pumis. “Well, well, well,” one of the workers says, “look what hatched from the Firebird’s egg!”
There is much talk in Pumis about Baal’s mysterious arrival. Many take it as a sign from Kizil that Baal is chosen by the god. There are of course rumors of ancient prophecies of doom and prosperity. Nevertheless, Baal becomes a bit of a local celebrity. I’ll let you decide how much of what happened to him he tells others. About a week after his return to “life” he gets a visit from Mother Superior of the Nunnery. She’s heard he’s become a local legend and wanted to catch up. She also received a letter addressed to Baal a few weeks ago from Commander Aiden in Portakal. When he reads it he finds out that Aiden has a special mission for him and his group and requests his return to Portakal posthaste.