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The BELVEDERE OF SKULLS is, like so many other magical items and places, the result of an experiment gone awry.
Originally, the idea was to preserve the knowledge of wizards and experimenters from the Shadow Guild, a secretive order of necromancers, by preserving the skulls of past members, as a link to their spirits and their accumulated knowledge. A wizard with the proper spells and safeguards could step into the Belvedere and question the masters of yesterday about specifics, spells, and practices, as a research aid. As a starter, several of the elders of the Shadow Guild offered to donate their own knowledge and remains to the project upon their deaths.
And had it been left at that, the project might not have been such an explosive failure.
The Guild was never a large organization, and its members were hardly inclined to hasten their deaths in order to contribute to the project... and the younger wizards were impatient. So they began by seeking out the remains of necromancers and wizards outside the Guild, to obtain said remains to move the project forward. This was a mistake on two fronts; few spirits care to have their rest disturbed against their will by nosy strangers, and at least two of the practitioners in question had obtained power by mortgaging their immortal souls with denizens of the infernal planes....
As the project began to take shape, one of the young wizards in question had an idea: if the elder masters would not share their accumulated lore at his convenience, would it not be easier to arrange their demise, build their skulls into the Belvedere, and interrogate them at leisure? Without bothering to consult with his fellows, he inhumed three of his elders, disposed of the bodies, and added their cleaned skulls to the pile of raw materials. This, too, was a mistake; the spirits of murder victims are seldom inclined to cheerfully cooperate with their murderers, and often retain considerable confusion and/or anger over their sudden demise... and spirits are often not good at telling one living person from another...
In the fullness of time, the Belvedere of Skulls was complete. Its construction had not been rapid, and its originators and architects were long since dead. Several had, in fact, contributed skulls for its construction. And this was the final mistake its makers made: when you're undertaking a complex project, it is almost always a bad idea for the project in question to pass through a succession of work crews. Differences of opinion, perceived improvements, and design changes tend to slip in.
And on that day, when the final Speak With Dead spell was inscribed and laid in place, and the Permanency spell cast to preserve the Belvedere for the ages, the ranking Guildmaster, Drorvik the Elder (privately known as Poochie to his friends) stepped into the Belvedere to ask the first question of the many, many souls bound to the most unusual library ever built.
His head didn't quite explode. He might have been more fortunate if it had; the psychic feedback from dozens of willing souls, several unwilling ones, a variety of rather surprised ones, quite a few enraged ones, and at least two infernals of indeterminate nature is not a thing a single human mind could handle. His body survived the experience, but for all practical purposes, his brain might as well have been a cold bowl of Malt-O-Meal. To call the Belvedere "haunted" was an understatement on par with calling the Tarrasque "a sort of pesky varmint." And what's worse, some of the spirits in question still had access to spells...
Some of the necromancers survived. Several city blocks did not. Twelve hours later, the Belvedere and several local landmarks and natives were gone. Some of the landmarks and natives reappeared in time, at various distances from their previous locations. Others did not.
The Belvedere of Skulls is best described as a Genius Loci suffering from a really bad case of multiple personality disorder. Its location changes periodically, from city streets to desolate mountains or deserts, and occasionally on other planes. Depending on which spirit's in charge, which ones are paying attention, and/or who's screaming the loudest, it can be remarkably helpful, even pleasant... or very much the opposite. Experienced wizards and bards, and individuals with high Charisma can have bonuses in dealing with it, or not. To step into the Belvedere can be to have questions answered, spells learned, replenished, or taken away, or to be psychically assaulted, or to see strange places and things from the memories of the souls within. At least one character was suddenly awarded 20,000 experience points, but was then told to make a Will save at -10 to avoid going insane from the influx of alien memories.
One thing is certain: if you value life and sanity, don't EVER call it a "gazebo."
Recently, one of the finest hobby shops in the area closed down. I was deeply saddened to see it go. This did not stop me from taking advantage of their Going Out Of Business Sale. And among the things I wound up buying were several packs of Skull Life Counters, pewter skull beads on a string, intended to keep track of your Life Points in a card game I think we're all familiar with. Twenty skull beads for a buck. I bought all the remaining packs. Only afterwards did it occur to me to wonder what I'd DO with the things.
...so today, in a memorial for Bonnie Brae Hobby Shop, I began assembling a structure...
Today would have been Amalor Myrnnyx's 43d birthday.
He was an active member of the boards and an enthusiastic CAV painter.
You can see his posts and many minis here: http://forum.reapermini.com/index.php?app=core&module=search&do=user_activity&search_app=forums&mid=3929&sid=4dc1a07892ec691a57b24104b3298d6f&search_app_filters[forums][searchInKey]=&userMode=content
(If you can't see individual posts, click on "Only posts" on the left menu)
There is a thread of minis in his memory: http://forum.reapermini.com/index.php?/topic/54390-amalor-myrnnyx-painting-memorial-submissions/
On March 7, 2014 Long time member and prolific painter, not to mention inspiration and friend to many,Amalor Myrnnyx; passed away. He was always ready to participate in painting challenges, both here, and in the Battletech community as well. Best known for his mecha pieces, he was also quite keen on painting fantasy and sci-fi figures as well. One of the last things he posted was, in response to another painting challenge, a reminder that the real goal was to have fun. So that is what this is, an opportunity to do something in his memory, to paint something in his memory, and a reminder to have fun. To that end, there will be no prizes awarded,other than the congratulations and encouragement of a job well done.
At present, I am thinking of breaking this into two categories. Mecha, and figures. Mecha in this case means CAV's Battlemechs' tanks and aircraft of all sorts, while figures are open to anything else. As there are not going to be prizes, I do not feel this needs to be limited to Reaper only figures. Anything that you think serves as a suitable memorial for James is acceptable.
On that note, I have never run a painting contest like this before, so those with experience, and those willing to serve as judges, if you would be so kind as to PM me on what needs to be done. I would appreciate it.
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