Lorien: The Legend Of Archmage Lorien (The Keep)ou stiffle a yawn, shifting on the wooden bench and looking around at the other students in the room. Most of them seem to be in various states of boredom, not much interested in the topic of the day. In the front, Master Everin keeps droning on, lecturing about the history of the Keep and some long-dead archmage. You lean back with a sigh, wondering how long until the lecture ends, when one of the other students, an older girl, interrupts the teacher. "Excuse me, Master," she starts, continuing hastily when he glares at her sharply. "This Archmage Lorien you are talking about, is he the same who created the legendary rose garden?" You give her a puzzled look, noticing several of your fellow students who do the same. While there are several gardens in the Keep, and some do contain roses, none of them could be called legendary by any stretch of the word. But Everin nods and replies: "It is indeed the same Lorien. He created the garden and put enchantments on it to keep it hidden, as a refuge where he could take respite from the daily chores when he needed to. When he died, the secret of where the garden is, and how to enter it died with him."
"But why didn't he tell anyone about it before he died?" One of the other students asks. A quick glance around tells you that, like you, many of the others are now taking a more active interest in what the Master is telling the class. "As I just told you," he replies dryly, the student blushing under his gaze, "Archmage Lorien died rather unexpectedly. He did not have time to pass on his secrets, and this one he had not written down to be found after his death. The secret of its location has not been revealed to this day." Master Everin turns back to his notes, ready to continue his lecture, when the girl who interrupted him in the first place speaks again. "I heard it has been found a few times in the past, Master, and that those who did brought with them creatures that cannot be found anywhere else. Is that true?" Everin nods. "Yes, allegedly some people once found it." You lean forward, suddenly very interested. "It seems like Archmage Lorien discovered a rare species and put it in his garden; those who found it say they still flourish there and brought eggs with them to prove it. None of these creatures remain today, so we cannot know for sure if it is true or not."
The Master claps in his hands and addresses the whole class again. "Well, the time is almost up, so we might as well end today's lecture a few minutes early. You are dismissed!" All around you, students get up and leave, chattering among themselves. You ponder what you have heard as you slowly rise from the bench. A rare creature, not found anywhere else; that would be quite the prize, and would surely earn you the envy of others in the Keep. Perhaps you should try to find this enchanted rose garden?
Lorien: The Legend Of Archmage Lorien (The Keep)You enter the library, then pause right after passing through the door, unsure how to proceed. Behind the desk near the door, one of the librarians sits, who now looks at you expectantly. You hesitate for a moment, then step up to her and ask: "I require a map of the Keep; if possible, an older one, from around the time of, let's say, Archmage Lorien." She gives you a long look, until you start to feel uncomfortable, then answers. "You are the fourth person today that asks for that kind of map. I am curious, what is going on?" – "Uh…" you start, trying to come up with an explanation on the spot. "It's… an assignement from Master Everin," you blurt out, covering the lie with a half-truth. "He says history not only affects people, but also places, and he wants us to see how it changed The Keep," you say, quicker now that the story has formed in your mind. Again, the librarian gives you a long stare, and you force yourself to meet it until she nods. "I am afraid the last map from that time that I could lend out has just been taken; I can only offer one from a different time period." As she sees the disappointment in your face, she continues. "Of course you could also visit magi Haeron, and ask whether he might have a map you could borrow. Ever since he's been raised to full magi, he has been studying the architecture of the Keep. He should be able to help you." Seeing as this might be your best option, you quickly agree to seek him out.
Following the directions the librarian gave you, you easily find Haeron's study. You take a deep breath, then knock, opening the door after you hear someone inside inviting you to enter. You step into a small study that is filled with all manner of maps, charts and books; various rocks that you take as geological samples are all over the place, often used to keep maps unrolled or a book held open. A man, looking to be in his early forties, has turned in his chair to look at you. "Yes?" he asks. "What can I do for you?" – "My apologies to bother you, magi Haeron," you start your prepared story. "Master Everin has given me an assignment, to research the changes in the Keep over the centuries. For that, I require a map of the Keep from a certain time period, and since the library didn't have any left, I was told you might be able to help me." Haeron gives you an affable smile, making a gesture that encompasses most of his study. "I have a variety of maps here; I am sure one can be found that will serve your needs." He leans forward in his chair. "However, I would like to ask a small favor in return?" Seeing your prize within easy reach, you answer. "Sure, what favor?" The man's blue eyes twinkle behind his glasses as he says: "Well, my studies take much of my time; much as I would like to, I don't often get around to raising the creatures we magi are famous for. For some time now, I have set my eye on a pair of minicorn hatchlings, one dark and one light. If you can get those for me, I will search for the map you require in the meantime."
"Remember, the deal was for two minicorn hatchlings, one light and one dark," magi Haeron tells you. "Then I will give you the map you require!"
You return to Haeron's study, knowing he has received and accepted the two minicorn hatchlings you sent. Now it is time for him to keep his end of the bargain. You knock and wait impatiently until he calls, then enter the room. "Ah, the young researcher," he says, recognizing you. "They are fine little foals, those two you brought me. I thank you for your help." He looks at you for a moment, until you nod in acceptance of his thanks, then continues: "I have what you were looking for, a map from the time period of Archmage Lorien." He rummages through the various papers on his desk until he produces an aged scroll, holding it up with a triumphant smile. "Here it is!" he says, handing it to you. "I trust you will treat it with care? It is not without value." You hastily assure him you will handle it with all due caution, then turn to leave, when suddenly he speaks again. "Now that you have the map, would you like to tell me the truth about what you need it for?" You stop, willing yourself not to flinch, then turn around slowly. "What do you mean?" you ask, trying to keep your voice from trembling. "Master Everin hasn't changed his teaching methods in more than thirty years," he replies. "Never has he given out an assignment like this. So obviously, you plan something you don't want me to know." He raises his hand to silence you as you start to speak and continues. "Now, I admit I cannot force you to tell me what it is you are planning. There isn't much mischief you can wreak with that map, or I would not have agreed for you to have it. But," and he leans forward in his chair. "I would like to point out that these maps are not always easy to read. If you let me in on the secret, you could draw on my expertise to help you discover whatever it is you seek."
You stand there for a while, contemplating his offer, then take a step toward Haeron. He seems to be honest enough, and it is true his knowledge about the Keep might aid you greatly. "Perhaps you really can help me," you say. "I am searching for the rose garden of Lorien, and the rare creatures that can be found there." Haeron gives a small chuckle, his eyes crinkling at the edges. "I should have known that's what you're after. Well, let us take a look at the map, shall we?" He reaches out a hand and you place the scroll into it. Making room on the desk in front of him, he spreads it out, beckoning to you to join him. You step up to the desk, looking at the map over his shoulder. "If the rose garden ever existed, and that's a big if, mind you, it would have had to be near the Archmage's study." He points to a part of the map, indicating where Lorien's study had been. "He wouldn't want to walk through half the Keep to reach his private sanctuary, after all." You look at the map, trying to make sense of the two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional building. "Are there any gardens nearby?" you ask. "Perhaps it already was a garden before Lorien declared it his private spot?" The magi nods. "Good thinking. The map lists two gardens, here, and here," he says, stabbing at the map to point out the areas. "This one, you should know. It is the herbal garden used by the healers guild. I think we can safely dismiss it." He points to the other area again. "This one no longer exists. The entrance has been walled up, so thoroughly you can't even see there has been a doorway there." You look at him in excitement. "But if it is still there, that might be exactly where the garden is!" you say. "Perhaps there is a way to open the doorway again, and enter the garden through it!" – "There is no garden behind it; you can look at the place through windows, or fly over it, and you won't see any garden." – "But if it could be found just by flying over it, the garden wouldn't have remained secret for so long!" you counter his words. "Lorien must have put spells on it to keep it hidden from prying eyes!" Haeron ponders your words, smoothing back graying hair with one hand, then replies slowly. "You do have a point. Perhaps we should take a look at this place." He rises from his chair and looks at you. "Shall we?"
Lorien: The Legend Of Archmage Lorien (The Keep)"Well, there we are." Haeron declares, gesturing at a piece of wall. "They've covered it with a tapestry, for some reason, but you'll only find stone behind it, same as every wall. You can't even see where the archway has once been." You step up to the wall and push the tapestry aside, scrutinizing the wall. Quickly you come to the conclusion that what Haeron said is true; there is no trace left of the former archway. You examine the wall minutely, going over every inch, hoping to find something, an uneven edge, a crevice hinting at a door, perhaps even a hidden handle. After almost an hour, you sigh in frustration, leaning against the wall. There's nothing, not even the smallest hint that this is anything but a normal wall. And yet, according to the map, this must be the spot where the entrance to the garden had been, long ago. You look at Haeron, wondering whether he is amused at your useless efforts, but his eyes are locked on something to your side, a strange look on his face. "You know," he says quietly. "Perhaps there is a reason they put this tapestry here…" You follow his gaze with your eyes to where the tapestry is hanging in folds, shoved to the side in your search for a clue. Not understanding what Haeron is hinting at, you unfold the heavy cloth again.
After only a moment, you realize what the magi meant. In the center of the tapestry, a large rose is displayed. You take a few steps back, to take in the complete scene. The rose is surrounded by an archway, formed by tangled vines that meet at the top. At each side, an animal with short, round ears is standing on its hind legs, the clawed forepaws resting on the vines of the archway. "It looks old enough to be from Lorien's time," Haeron muses. "Perhaps it is a clue." You lean against the wall opposite the tapestry and stare at it intently. Haeron is right, it must be a clue; you just have to figure out what it means.
You return to the wall, staring at the tapestry again. A rose surrounded by an archway made of vines, with a creature on either side, their paws on the vines. If you could just figure out what it means.
You have discussed your idea with Haeron, and he agreed it will be worth a try. The two of you return to the hall and take the tapestry away, carefully rolling it up and putting it down on the floor. Then you instruct the creatures you brought, two Xand Bears, to take position to the right and left of the wall. You give each of them an affectionate stroke over the head, smiling as one of them nuzzles your hand, then tell them: "If there is anything here, make it grow!" For a while, nothing happens, and disappointment starts to rise in you, when suddenly you notice a small shoot coming out of a crack between the stones of the floor and the wall. First slowly, then quicker and quicker the shoot grows and starts to form vines that snake upwards along the wall. A glance to the other side shows that the same thing happening there. Both tendrils grow larger and thicker, moving up the wall and forming an arch that meets in the middle. Finally the growth slows, and when it stops, a plain wooden door fills the space between them. You and Haeron share an amazed look, then you take a step toward the door and put your hand on the tarnished brass knob. You glance back at Haeron again, who gives you an encouraging nod, then you turn the knob and open the door.
The smell of roses greets you as you push the door back. You step through the opening into a garden full of roses of every color imaginable, in every state of blooming, as if the changing seasons had no affect on them. A few feet from where you entered, a small pedestal with a brass insignia is placed. You step closer to read the inscription:
Welcome to my garden!
Now that you have found this place, I hope it will give you as much enjoyment as it did me. Feel free to return here whenever you need respite from the world.
I only ask two things of you: do not share the secret as it is my intent to only allow those in here who can find the secret on their own; and do not take more than two eggs of the Rose Imp with you, so their population will flourish in this garden forever.