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The Tale of the Rolton Mask

"I find this tale ever so amusing, despite its lack of elven origin. The moral is certainly evident as well. While I have found historical traces of the halfling family and have visited the Cavernhold, I have yet to discover any evidence of this "rolton mask" and continue to take this story with a grain of salt."

Briede Songweavyre

Once, outside the town of Ta'Illistim, in the caves of Whistler's Pass, lived a halfling couple. Olbrekt was a very simple man who loved only the hunt above his beloved wife, Elpha. His wife, however, was not as simple. She loved money above all else, save her own self and wished more than anything else to obtain the fortune and fame marrying a simple huntsman had denied her.

Over the years, her disdain grew into full hatred and she became desperate to find a way to escape Olbrekt. She would sneak away from her home when Olbrekt had left on a hunt and make her way through every inn and tavern, searching for anything that would aid her in her quest. Hidden in shady corners she would wait, listening in on the conversations of every wayfarer who happened into the tavern.

It was here she discovered the origin of Cavernhold. A little known place well beyond the borders of Upper Trollfang, the hold was a home of a band of dwarves. The gnolls had created, in Cavernhold, a defensive system like no other and to this day, few have managed to penetrate it.

While the defenses of the stronghold barely fazed Elpha, the talk of the great prize that lies at its center enthralled her. She listened to the conversation intently and, when the bandits left the inn that night, Elpha followed them. She marked a path to their camp and returned home to gather supplies before her husband returned home from the hunt.
She followed them through Dragonsclaw, through Trollfang and Alpine Meadow. The bandits were camped just beyond a secluded valley where the hold was nestled between the two mountains. That night, Elpha slept in a bed of crumpled leaves and briars. She awoke the next morning to more aches and pains than she had thought possible, yet the image of being bedecked in jewels and luxuries numbed her pain and she began to track the bandits towards the hold.

The bandits were quick to infiltrate the stronghold's defenses and, thanks to the quick fingers of the locksmith they had hired, moved through the inner chambers with nearly as much speed. It was only when the corridors became too small for any of them to fit that their progress slowed. It was then that Elpha made her move. With the quickness of a puma, she slipped past the bandits and through the last door. After moving through a series of tunnels she came upon a large cavern. She rubbed her greedy little hands together in anticipation as she moved inside the cavern, expecting to find the mounds of treasure she had heard so much about.

She was barely able to stifle her cry of distress. There was no treasure. Not a nugget of gold or silver coin in the entire cavern. Enraged, she bounded through the cavern and over to where a large, carved stone altar stood. With a cry of frustration, she kicked the altar good and hard. Her cry quickly changed to one of intense pain and, falling to the floor, she grasped her bare foot.

When she had finally soothed her foot enough, she turned to her left and spotted a curious object. What appeared to be a carving of sorts turned out to be a small mask shaped like that of a whimsical rolton's face. She bundled the mask up inside her cloak and, with a heavy heart, left Cavernhold.

Upon returning home, she closeted away the mask and completely forgot about the thing for months. One day she was cleaning out the pantry and found it hidden behind a canister of flour. Baffled, having packed it away in her armoire, Elpha inspected the mask with further curiosity. Soon she was trying it on, and raising it to her face, she thought she could hear a soft whisper.

The moment the mask touched her skin it began to creak and shiver. Suddenly it grew, enveloping her head, securing itself and leaving Elpha no means of escape from it! She wrenched and writhed, crying out to be rid of the cursed mask to no avail. Finally, after much heaving, she grew calm and resigned to her situation.

It was then that she began to hear the whispers again, louder this time.

"Elpha… make a wish… three wishes ye shall deem, enjoy your newfound magic. But be wary, for nothing is as it does seem."

With that, Elpha's eyes lit up. Surely she had found the lost treasure of Cavernhold!
Immediately she uttered her first wish, "I wish to be the wealthiest in all Elanith!"
Suddenly the halfling woman found herself bedecked in the finest of red velvet, gem-encrusted rings sparkling brilliantly upon her fingers. She reached for her bankbook and gasped, for she had more silvers than she thought possible!

"I wish to be the most famous in all Elanith!" she cried out, delirious with her fortune. She felt no different from her second wish at first, but then a knocking at her door caught her attention. When she opened it, a young elven crier announced that a ball was being held in her honor at the BriarStone Keep in Ta'Illistim.

Elated, she began to dance around the room, the rich smell of spices clinging to her luxurious velvet tabard. Suddenly she stopped her celebration and grew somber. She knew she had but one wish left and that it must not be squandered. But what could be greater than all the wealth and fame in the lands?

At once, the idea came to her and she uttered her third, and final, wish.

"I wish to live forever!"

At that moment she fell to the floor and began to writhe and tremble. The mask began to grow once more, covering the halfling woman from head to toe. Thick, dirty fur began to sprout from the wooden mask, covering Elpha. When finally she stopped writhing in pain, she was no longer a halfling, but a rolton!

She stood up and fretted over her newfound body. When she tried to yell for help, she bleated instead. Just as she began to formulate a new plan of action to rid herself of the cursed mask, the door flew wide and in stepped Olbrekt.

The minute his eyes fixed upon the rolton a small, dark smile crossed his face. He reached for his bow and arrow, meaning to shoot the creature invading his home. Elpha tried to call out to him, to tell him who she was but all she did was bleat in fear. Olbrekt cocked back his bow and readied his shot.

In that instant Elpha bounded for the door, but did not miss Olbrekt's shot. It grazed her face, slicing through her nose and eyes. She managed to make it out the door and into the forest. Her eyes never healed and she was blind from that day forth, left to travel the lands as an immortal, blind rolton for the rest of eternity.

Olbrekt, you ask? What became of him? He inherited his wife's wealth and fame and lived out the rest of his days as a huntsman, forever wondering what happened to his darling wife.

 

 

 



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