Doctor Jones I Presume

“Dr. Dhaveed Bhanir: physician, scientist; searching for a way to tap into the hidden strengths that all humans have. Then an accidental overdose of wild magic alters his body chemistry. And now when Dhaveed Bhanir grows angry or outraged, a startling metamorphosis occurs…

The creature is driven by rage and wanted for a murder he didn’t commit. Dhaveed Bhanir is believed to be dead, and he must let the world think that he is dead until he can find a way to control the raging beast that dwells within him.”

Part One: Dhaveed Bhanir

For years, I was a research leader on the Guardian Project for the Simic Combine on Ravnica. As a well-known and highly respected scientist in the Hull Clade, I was in charge of discovering new ways to enhance and evolve our defense forces. My specific research project involved using the chaotic nature of wild magic to tap into the hidden strengths that all sentient beings possess. 

I don’t know what happened. I remember an explosion, and a surge of wild magic engulfing me in green flames. I remember pain, anger, and rage consuming me…and then nothing. When I woke up, the lab was in flames, all the equipment was destroyed, and my research assistants were dead. I could hear the synchronized heavy footsteps of the Boros Legionnaires in the hallway outside, and so I did the only thing I could do: I fled.

I opened a portal “to anywhere but here,” and stepped through. I found myself in Faerun, and began searching for answers. I exhausted the libraries of Waterdeep, Neverwinter, and Baldur’s Gate. I visited every sage, mage, and temple I could find. Finally, I journeyed to the Radiant Citadel. It was here that I learned of the ancient civilization of Netheril, and The Nether Scrolls: powerful magical artifacts that contained knowledge of the very essence of magic itself. Long lost to time, theft, and misfortune, perhaps these scrolls could cure me. I set out with renewed purpose and vigor to find these scrolls for myself. 

I returned to the libraries of the big cities, this time in search of the scrolls. You can imagine my surprise when I learned that the scrolls did not originate with Netheril, but instead came from a much, much older civilization, Isstosseffifil, the Sarrukh empire. Here, they were known as The Golden Skins of the World Serpent. I journeyed into the wild and desolate areas of the Forgotten Realms, searching for these “Golden Skins.”

It was in one such ruin where I encountered the esteemed Doctor Neverwinter Jones.

Part Two: Neverwinter Jones

Neverwinter Jones reached down to his hip and hummed a short tune under his breath. A glowing vine appeared in his hand, coiled like a whip. He let it unfurl from his hand, then he lashed out with it. It coiled around the arm of the statue, fifteen feet above his head, and then retracted, pulling him into the air. Just before it disappeared, he grabbed the arm and wrapped himself around it. With great effort and considerable care, he managed to fight his way to the top of the arm and took a minute to catch his breath. The eyes of Sithicys had waited for ten thousand years. They could wait ten more minutes. 

He moved his head to the side, and his fedora slipped off his head. His hand shot out instinctively and snatched it from the air. Cursing, he returned it to his head. He looked up at the eyes again and started crawling along the statue’s arm. When he got to the shoulder, he stood up, and started inching his way across the clavicle. Standing underneath Sithicys’ chin, he reached into his bag of holding, and pulled out his climbing gear. He put on the magical gloves and boots, with their permanently sticky pads, and began climbing up the face of the ancient yuan-ti god.

“Yeah, probably should have started with that,” he said to himself as he easily climbed up the neck. When he got to the face, he peered inside the fanged mouth. Inside was a scroll. Realizing that it was important, but knowing the gemstone eyes were the real prize, he put the scroll in his bag, and continued climbing past the nose slits. He reached the left eye and pried it loose. 

Hundreds of snakes started pouring out of the empty socket. With a loud yelp, Dr. Jones leapt to the side, hurriedly brushing away the few snakes that had landed on him.

“Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?” he asked himself with no small amount of disgust. “Duh. Of course it had to be snakes,” he reminded himself. It was a yuan-ti temple after all. 

The snakes continued to pour out of the eye socket, most falling down to the sandy floor below, but a few crawling over the face of the statue. Neverwinter briefly considered abandoning the other eye, but the mission was to retrieve both eyes, so climbed up to the forehead, and then down to the right eye. Using considerably more caution this time, he pried the eye loose and quickly moved back as snakes started pouring out of this eye, too. Sithicys, mystical founder of the Sarrukh Empire, Father of the Yuan-ti race, was weeping serpents.

Doctor Jones looked down at the ground with a mixture of fear and disgust. The stone floor was now writhing with thousands of snakes. He turned his gaze to the ceiling, still a hundred feet above him, but saw nothing except the rough-hewn cavern rock. For the hundredth time, he wondered why he never brought a teleport scroll with him on missions like this. 

Just when he thought things couldn’t possibly get any worse, he felt the giant statue start to tremble violently. He barely had time to catch his footing before a giant snake, at least fifty feet long, exploded out of the statue’s mouth. As the monstrosity slithered towards the floor below, the statue started breaking apart.

In desperation, Dr. Jones leapt off of the rapidly crumbling head towards the wall of the cavernous room. He slammed into it and slid down thirty or forty feet before his sticky gloves and boots could stop his fall. Behind him, the massive statue of Sithicys collapsed into a pile of broken stone and dust.

Dr. Jones’ hopes that maybe the huge snake had been buried under the rubble were dashed when the creature’s head suddenly slammed into the wall beside him. He started climbing down the wall, and the creature barely missed his head with another strike. Realizing that it was probably safer to just fall, he spoke the command words, and the gloves and boots returned to their normal, non-sticky state. Dr. Jones slid down the wall and rolled onto the floor. Thankfully, it seemed like the masses of smaller snakes had scattered when the large snake appeared. Or they were buried under the collapsing statue. The important thing was, they weren’t here, and that was a huge relief. 

Dr. Jones coughed on all the dust in the air. He realized making a noise was a huge mistake when he heard the giant snake move suddenly, sending debris flying. Instinctively, he ducked and rolled just as the creature struck, causing it to miss a third time. He grabbed his hat again and bolted for the passageway out. The impossibly large snake gave chase immediately, knocking chunks out of the temple walls as it thrashed and reared its head to strike at Dr. Jones again and again.

Dr. Jones ran as fast as he could, and acting more on instinct than anything else, he managed to avoid most of the traps he had carefully avoided on the way in. He jumped over the pit trap, rolled under the swinging blade, and side-stepped the spear. Behind him, the impossibly huge snake crashed through all the traps without care. Ahead of him, the opening to the temple was collapsing. He ran as hard as he could and took a diving leap through the opening. Behind him, the temple caved in, burying the giant snake under tons of rubble.

Part Three: Doctor, Doctor

Neverwinter Jones, lying face down in the desert, was surprised to find himself staring at a pair of very small feet. Halfling feet, clad in fine leather boots. The halfling was short, even for a halfling.

“Um,um…hello there,” said the halfling. “I don’t suppose you could tell me what happened to the temple over there.”

Dr. Jones stood up, brushed himself off, and stared down at the little man. He reached down and picked up his hat, put it on his head, and pulled the brim down over one eye. “Collapsed,” was all he said.

“Y…yes, yes. I can see that it collapsed,” said the little man. “I was hoping for a bit more information than that.”

“Doesn’t matter,” said Dr. Jones. “I already got the eyes, and I’m not about to give them to you.”

“Eyes?” asked the little man. “What eyes? I’m not here for anyone’s eyes. Oh dear…oh dear…you took someone’s eyes?!!” The halfling started backing away nervously. “Hey….I d…I duuuu….I don’t want any t…tr…trouble now.” He definitely had the look of someone preparing to bolt.

Doctor Jones held his hand up in a “wait” gesture and sat down in the sand. He wiped the sweat from his brow. “I didn’t take anyone’s eyes. They were in a statue. I’m bringing them back to my university for study. I’m an archaeologist, and Doctor Neverwinter Jones is my name.What’s your name, short round? I could use a friend out here, and it looks like you could, too.”

The halfling breathed a sigh of relief and took a drink of water from his skin before handing it over to Doctor Jones. “I am Dr. Dhaveed Bhanir, Research Leader for the Hull Clade of the Simic Combine,” he said.

“Simic Combine?” asked Dr. Jones. “Never heard of it.”

“And I’ve never heard of you,” Dhaveed said with a twinkle in his eye.

The two men shared a laugh, and then Dhaveed turned serious. “I don’t suppose you came across any scrolls in there, did you?”

Neverwinter was cautious, but he liked this new doctor he had found in the middle of the desert, so he opened up his bag and took out the scroll he had found in the statue’s mouth. “Just this one,” he said, and handed it over. 

Dhaveed took the scroll tenderly and sat down hard on the sand. Carefully, he opened the case, and took the scroll. He unrolled it carefully, with awe and reverence. “It’s just a Summoning spell,” he said, not even trying to hide his disappointment. He handed it back to Neverwinter, who put it back into his bag.

“What kind of scroll were you hoping for?” asked Dr. Jones.

“I’m looking for something called The Nether Scrolls. I don’t suppose you’ve heard of them?”

“Oh yes. Yes, Indeed.” said Neverwinter.”The Nether Scrolls are some of the most sought-after artifacts in all of Faerun. They’ve been lost for ages…if they ever existed at all. Many archaeologists believe that they’re nothing more than myth; legend. But, I’m not one of them. Tell you what. You come along with me, and we’ll search for the scrolls together.”

“That sounds good to me,” said Dr. Bhanir. 

And so, they set out on their adventure together.