The Tome of Torment was the most holy book of the Church of Ilmater, reputedly granted by the One Who Endures himself. It had a long and troubled history, being stolen and recovered numerous times and once the center of a holy war between rival temples to the Broken God, and ironically the focus of much suffering.
The Tome of Torment was the holiest of all the sacred books of the church of Ilmater and the faithful were desperate to keep it within their possession. When stolen, the Ilmatari made vigorous and probing searches all across Faerûn, no matter who they angered in the process. Anyone who was known to possess it was quickly harassed by a number of Ilmatari, who politely, firmly, and repeatedly made offers to buy or trade for the Tome. If the owner attempted to damage it, lock it away, or sell it to a non-believer, then the Ilmatari would attack with overwhelming magical force.
Although perhaps priceless, the Tome was sold for 20,000 gold pieces as stolen property, and a reward of 40,000 gp was offered by the church for its safe return.
Far from resembling a typical holy book, the Tome looked more like a book-shaped block of hair. It could be mistaken for a folded blanket or a bundle of horsehair intended for a weaver. The outer covers were actually a slipcase of black, matted horsehair stuck to ebony panels. Inside was a folded horsehair tunic—a hairshirt—with large shield-shaped horse-hide panels on front and back and small metal hooked barbs studding the inside. [note 1]
In order to gain access to the spells contained within the Tome, the hairshirt had to be worn continuously for a full day, despite the small cuts that the barbs inflicted. After this time, an index of spells appeared on the front panel of the hairshirt. To select a spell, one had to touch it with a finger dabbed with holy water or a tear or drop of blood from the owner of the finger. The selected spell then appeared on the back panel until another spell was selected or two days had passed, at which time both index and spell disappeared. As a result of the Spontaer's protections, the spells would only appear for a priest of Ilmater.
The Tome was known to include the following spells: accelerate healing, air walk, animate rock, atonement, barrier of retention, blade barrier, blast of pain, blessed warmth, breath of life, cairn, call upon faith, calm chaos, caltrops, champion's strength, chaotic combat, chaotic commands, chaotic sleep, choose future, cloak of bravery, command, continual light, create campsite, create food and water, create holy symbol, cure light wounds, cure serious wounds, disbelief, draw upon holy might, efficacious monster ward, embattlement, emotion control, endurance of Ilmater, exaction, faerie fire, fangs of retribution, favor of Ilmater, flame walk, focus, fortify, free action, frisky chest, glyph of warding, heal, healing hand, heat metal, helping hand, hesitation, hold person, holy word, Ilmater's fist, impeding permission, invisibility purge, know customs, light, line of protection, miscast magic, mystic transfer, nap, neutralize poison, probability control, produce fire, purify food and drink, random causality, rapport, regenerate, remove curse, remove fear, remove paralysis, repeat action, restoration, rigid thinking, sacred guardian, sanctify, seclusion, slow boon, slow poison, solipsism, spell immunity, spiritual wrath, stone tell, strength of one, telepathy, thief's lament, thought broadcast, unceasing vigilance of the holy sentinel, unearthly choir, water walk, weighty chest, whirlchain, and wyvern watch.
In the form of a hair shirt, the Tome appeared on the altar of Ilmater in the church town of Carathryn in Tethyr in the Year of the Vigilant Familiar, 848 DR. The Ilmatari told the story that Ilmater himself had placed it there, but there remained some disagreement over who exactly had fashioned it or placed it on the altar. High Priest Ilnger Obskoth proclaimed it as "the hand of holy Ilmater made manifest among us", and it swiftly became the most venerated sacred object in Carathryn. The Tome saw extensive use around the southern Sword Coast for some three centuries, despite several thefts by brigands and the sinking of Carathryn in the Year of the Shattered Chains, 1123 DR.
Finally, in the Year of the Majesty, 1177 DR, a thief named Bredisker successfully stole the Tome and fled east to the Thornwood. Continually harassed and stalked by Ilmatari, a weary Bredisker sold the book to Lalaskra of Ormpetarr, a priestess of Loviatar and an enemy of the church. Enduring the pain, she wore the hairshirt at all times in order to receive the spells and was nicknamed "Leatherskin" as a result. She removed it only during Loviatan rituals, and on one such occasion in the Year of the Crimson Crag, 1211 DR, it was stolen by an unknown thief. Incensed, Lalaskra drove her Loviatan minions to search for the Tome across the southern Vilhon Reach lands for some ten years, without success.
By the mid–14th century DR, it was theorized that the thief was the young sage Athorton of Nleeth. Athorton wrote extensively of the magic of the Ilmatari—magic known to few outsiders—and he may have acquired such knowledge via the Tome. As an old man, he became friends with Beromchess Ilthyn, a local priestess of Ilmater, and it was she who covertly took the Tome to the House of Holy Suffering in Mussum, following Athorton's death in the Year of the Shattered Altar, 1264 DR.
At the House of Holy Suffering, the senior Sage-Priest of the church, known as the Spontaer, studied the Tome of Torment. The Spontaer prayed to Ilmater for nearly a year, and received visions of powerful magical protections that would render the Tome usable only by priests of Ilmater, and not just those willing to suffer its barbs like Lalaskra, and thereby make it less desirable to thieves. However, these protections would come at the cost of his life. The Spontaer explicitly requested that the Tome of Torment be delivered to the House of the Broken God in Keltar in Calimshan, the greatest temple of Ilmater, before he worked the magic on the Tome and sacrificed his own life.
However, Shrymaun Beldaerth, leader of the House of Holy Suffering, refused to relinquish the Tome to the House of the Broken God. Archsufferer Bloirt Waelarn of the Keltar house declared all those of the "degenerate" Mussum house "heretics" and called for them to be cast out and treated as mentally ill. A few ambitious minor priests joined Waelarn and together they journeyed to the Mussum house, intending to "cleanse the filth". The priests of Mussum recruited the Companions of the Noble Heart paladin order to their defense, and attacked Waelarn and his followers, who were labeled "false clerics" and "subverted by evil". An angry Waelarn summoned three other knightly orders—the Holy Warriors of Suffering, the Knights of the Bleeding Shield, and the Order of the Golden Cup—to his side and vowed holy war against the "unclean ones of Mussum" and their allies. The war saw the violent clashes of Holy Hill Farm in 1266 DR and Bronsheir's Charge and Weeping Rock in 1267 DR. Finally, Lord Sir Jargus Holenhond of the Golden Cup called an end to the bloodshed between true believers, insisted that the Tome of Torment be transferred to Keltar as planned, and blamed Bloirt Waelarn for the senseless violence, determining that he should be removed from office and sent into hermitage on Falconsrise for the remainder of his years. The weary paladins accepted and carried out his judgment.
Althea the Abased succeeded Waelarn as leader of the House of the Broken God, and, seeing the carnage wrought by the fight for ownership of the Tome, declared that no high-ranking member of the church was worthy of it. Althea said that Ilmater had given them the Tome for the "low and truly needy" priests to "further the will and work of Ilmater in the wilderlands and perilous places of all Toril", and recruit non-believers to the faith of the Crying God. Althea selected Blaermon the Blessed, a knight of the Holy Warriors of Suffering, to take away the Tome of Torment and to those "wild places" and bestow it upon the first "needy and worthy" Ilmatari he met, someone who worked or fought for the benefit of the common people and their faith, not merely for wealth and adventure.
In the Year of the Daystars, 1268 DR, Blaermon gave the Tome to Flaergon of Glister, who devoted his efforts to assisting miners and caravan-workers in the frozen north of the Moonsea. Aided by the Tome, Flaergon worked hard over three decades to build hostels and shelters, mark trails, and lead groups of young warriors and Ilmatari priests against creatures that prayed on these routes. Flaergon died of a fall in the Year of the Claw, 1299 DR.
Daern of Hawksroost, a devoted companion of Flaergon, took the Tome of Torment across all of Faerûn back to the House of the Broken God to return it to Althea the Abased. Daern's devotion so moved Althea that she named him an honorary Brother of the temple and the Ilmatari remembered him in the saying "long and strong as Daern's devotion". Daern became Althea's personal bodyguard and carer, and when she finally passed on in the Year of the Gate, 1341 DR, he was given a new role as Guardian of the Tome, defending the artifact he'd once traveled so far to deliver.Within a year, Daern was murdered one night by a semi-monstrous man—the returned Bloirt Waelarn—who stole the Tome and escaped, journeying toward Mussum. At Thorlor's Well near Sespech, Waelarn was finally confronted by Sir Guth of the Order of the Golden Cup, who challenged him to single combat before their god. Waelarn accepted, and promptly used a cairn spell from the Tome to bury Guth. He then dug Guth out with a pick, using an axe to chop off any limb that was revealed. Guth was soon killed and Waelarn left with the Tome, resuming his journey east. But the god Ilmater caused Sir Guth to rise from his grave as a zombie. Untiring and unrelenting and resisting all spells hurled at him, Guth tracked the rogue priest across Sespech. Waelarn finally collapsed of exhaustion outside Elbulder and the zombie Guth strangled him as he slept. The deed done, Guth hid the Tome of Torment then constructed a funeral pyre to burn first Waelarn's corpse to ash and then himself, still obeying the will of Ilmater the Broken God.
Shortly after, a young underpriest in Mussum named Kortolt Rushtyn received visions from Ilmater, leading him to find the Tome of Torment. Rather than take it back to Mussum or Keltar, Kortolt took it to Raven's Rack, an isolated shrine to the god west of Hlondeth. Here, Kortolt made use of the Tome to aid both believers and non-believers, and to preach about Ilmater. In the Year of the Boot, 1343 DR, Kortolt was killed by bandits, who attempted to sell the Tome in Hlondeth, only to be killed themselves by a mob angry at the death of the much-loved priest.
The people of Hlondeth gave the Tome to the Graycloak's Wolves adventuring company, that they should deliver it to Master Sufferer Olbedan, a well-respected priest of Ilmater. However, Graycloak's Wolves were all killed by doppelgangers and leucrotta preying on travellers. The Tome was thought lost in the winter snows, but may have been discovered in the spring by a local woodcutter, a traveller, or a caravan guard, or even carried away by the doppelgangers.
Either way, it eventually found its way to Crimmor in Amn, to a stall of exotic treasures managed by Beguld Thormon—also a doppelganger, as Ilmatari investigators later found. Shortly before Midsummer, Thormon sold the Tome for 20,000 gold pieces to a group of Thayan agents. For their own ends, this group dealt in a number of criminal enterprises: kidnapping, slavery, smuggling, and the fencing and transport of stolen property. The group based themselves in a house in Athkatla, which an Ilmatari strike-force assaulted one night in the autumn of 1343 DR. The impressive Ilmatari attack destroyed the house and ended with the Thayan band pursued through the streets and slain, amidst a number of stabbings and desperate rooftop jumps. Before the fall of winter at the close of the year, Enduring Servant Elisker Hagathan carried the Tome of Torment in triumph back to the House of the Broken God.
There the Tome remained for nearly twenty years, during which time it was occasionally loaned to Ilmatari priests embarking on dangerous missions and monster culls with the Holy Warriors of Suffering.
Finally, it was stolen again in the Year of the Helm, 1362 DR, and remained lost. Ilmater gave visions of the Tome to his faithful, showing it to be kept within a dark, stone-walled room somewhere in Faerûn and being studied by someone with hairy, muscular, male human hands. Recovering it became a mission for all followers of Ilmater, setting them on a vigorous search across the Realms, and their probing efforts provoked conflict with those who wished their privacy or had something else to hide. A 40,000-gp reward was offered the return of the complete and undamaged Tome of Torment at either the House of the Broken God in Keltar or the House of Holy Suffering in Mussum. At least twice, fraudsters delivered fake Tomes to the House of the Broken God, and were punished for their trickery.
The whereabouts of the Tome of Torment were still unknown by 1370 DR.
The Tome of Torment was most often held by temples of Ilmater, such as at Holy High Carathryn, the House of Holy Suffering in Mussum, and the House of the Broken God in Keltar, or carried from place to place, but had a few notable owners outside the temples:
- Lalaskra of Ormpetarr, a priestess of Loviatar.
- Athorton of Nleeth, a sage.
- Flaergon of Glister, a frontier priest of Ilmater.
- Bloirt Waelarn, rogue priest of Ilmater.
- Kortolt Rushtyn, a young preacher.
- ↑ This horsehair shirt may be of the same form as the hair shirt of Ilmater presented in Magic of Faerûn. However, the Tome apparently lacks the defensive capability and healing power of the enchanted hair shirt.