Iomedae is my Strength.
The Twins cleared of their conquerors, the Queen’s Men rescued, and the demon lord Maghoula slain in honor of your 3rd Act, we head north toward our destination, toward Drezen. With a majority of our scouts lost, Mlo, Artemis, and Taer have taken up the mantle as frontrunners for our company. We have lost good men and women, Anevia most noted among them, but the worst of it is we don’t even know their fate. Had we more time, I’d advocate for attempts to determine their state and rescue them if they still live, though I doubt we will have an opportunity to do so. There are only so many bridges that need to be cleared to let an army by. I loathe the moment when I will have to share with Captain Irabeth the news of her loss. I have failed her, and the sacred promise I made to both of them.
Even in triumph there is loss, and triumph is never guaranteed. Such is war. But I shall not falter, shall not lose faith, for Your radiant light and righteous wrath guide me, driving me ever on.
In the distance, a lone rider. We tense up, is it friend or foe? Too small to be a man… ah, it’s my kinsman Milo returned. He eagerly reports on their findings – a company of tiefling slavers. My heart jumps for a moment, could our soldiers still be alive, but held captive by these horrid beings? I prepare to call to Edoras to hasten the company when Milo says, “Oh, we killed them all. Arti and Taer are sorting through the mess, I just came back to let you know.” When pressed for signs of our soldiers, he muttered a casual “I don’t know” then wanders off to find some food.
Perhaps I was born for something more, but I have never suffered from the strangely consuming hunger of my race. It has always perplexed me.
Kicking our horses, we hasten up toward our companions. Milo had said the tieflings had been easily slaughtered, but why this sense of foreboding, this uneasiness? Coming into the ravine where they had encountered the tieflings, we spot a herd of aurochs, tainted by the Worldwound, meandering through the battle field feasting on the fallen tieflings. Demon eat demon, it’s a touch amusing.
My heart stops.
This, this cannot be! Leaping off my steed I rush through the horrid beasts, slaying two that think I am their next meal. I jump up onto the wagon, tearing at its wrought-iron bars. Tears stream down my face as I try to rend the metal with my bare hands. Lathander follows quickly behind and unleashes his nimble fingers on the lock. Throwing the door open I dive in, lifting the decapitated head of my Sarkorian friend. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!
As I stare there at the mutilated remains of my brothers in arms, Taer’s visage slowly twists, warping into the hideous face of an Abyssal tiefling. What trickery is this?! I throw the tiefling’s head to the ground in disgust. Lathander nearly loses his mind at my actions ~ he cannot see through the magical guise that had been cast upon these corpses as a way to mock and torment us. But my soul is pure, my cause is just, and thus You grant me the ability to see through such lies.
I will have vengeance.
Lathander has recovered and begins investigating the other wagon, one with solid wooden sides. Foolishly he springs a trap, getting himself caught in a chamber of metal and fire. His skills allow him to free himself, and he recovers some useful items before the whole carriage is consumed in flames.
Meanwhile, Lucius and Aldrick have found three wagon trails leading out of the river bed. Aldrick’s sight enhanced by his unholy pacts, he is able to determine that two of the trails are magical in nature, meaning the third is our clear choice for pursuit. Cracking our steeds into a brutal gallop, we charge ahead with hopes that our friends may still live.
A crow caws in the distance. It is unsettling, an agent of some unknown demon lord perhaps. It will not pass any message home today. Without Artemis to take it down, I take on his role and unleash an arrow at the avian beast, then watch it plummet to the ground.
Coming up over a rise, we see another barred wagon rolling away in the distance. Pushing our mounts on further, we close the distance further. A driver can be seen atop the wagon. Suddenly it stops and the rider disappears, reappearing inside the wagon with a blade to Artemis’s throat. “Another step and your friends die" he utters. Lucius casts back threats in turn, then he and Aldrick try to negotiate. “Your life for our companions’ lives”, Lucius offers. The slaver counters, “ah but you get two, whereas I get only one. I will free one of them for my safe passage, the other goes on with me”.
I cannot… I will not lose any more of my friends this day. Especially not to the bondage of slavery. It is simple, the value of two lives is greater than one, even my own. Though I am loathe to I will entreat with this man, for he holds the fate of my friend’s lives literally on the edge of a blade.
I up the ante. “My life for the other’s then”. The slaver snorts, “Why would I want a half man in shiny armor? The Hag Jaruka will pay far more for this mighty Sarkorian.” Proudly, I dismount and declare, “I am Sir Renlidorn Taggletoe, knight of Kenabres, the sacredly blessed paladin of Iomedae who slew the demon lord Maghoula… your Hag wouldn’t want something like that?”
He is taken aback by my bold declaration, and to a degree I am as well. I have never thought of myself as much, yet in those few short words I painted a portrait of a hero of old… The man ponders for a moment then accepts, and calls on Lucius to execute me. I laugh, if he wants my life he can take my life, not another, but I will see my friends go free in return. He calls out, “They will pay handsomely for your head.” I stare back “are you telling me they wouldn’t pay more to torture my soul for eternity rather than get my dead corpse while my soul rests in Heaven at Iomedae’s Court?”
Yet again the slaver is caught offguard by the dark reality of my words, “wait, wait, hmm, yes.” With that, I start walking forward, disarming slowly as I approach. Lathander continues to protest my actions, but it is of little use. I will save them. Ever i insightful, Aldrick states that he “must determine if they are still alive for this deal to be sure. i will not harm you, you have my word.” The slaver motions for him to come and he follows behind me.
As we draw near the wagon, I drop the last of my arms, then my shield. All save Radiance. “I must know they are alive”, I utter as I stop. The slaver throws me a key. Picking it up, I step up and unlock the door, allowing Aldrick to step in. Aldrick smiles, “let us talk, won’t you drop the knife”. Suddenly the slaver drops the blade.
The game has changed, he no longer holds my companions lives in his hands. I dive forward, striking him with Your righteous might delivered through my fists.
Tiefling teleports away, Renli “he is nearby, used teleport magic”
Renli lay on hands Arti, back to life
“No one betrays Baron Issen and Lives” Fireball
Aldrick blasts ‘burst of radiance’, wounding and blinding tiefling
Healing splash on all
Renli lay on hands Taer, starts charging
Lath dismantles manacles on Taer, hands crossbow to Arti “you know how to use this”
Arti, still manacles, shoots bolt at tiefling, hits
Lucius runs, with magic, nearly at blind wizard
Renli keeps running
Taer tries to break out of feet chains
Arti to Lath “reload”; does, works on manacles
Blind Wizard, “i surrender, do not kill barron issen, i know many things and can be of use to you”
Lucius charges, plunging sword into blind wizard
(servant of Sifkesh, demon lord of ….)
Aldrick searches body, finds holy symbol
Renli, “we cannot tarry long, let us return with him”
Lucius, “we cannot allow this heretic to speak”
debate options for interrogation
Lucius, “we must get back to army” draws sword and executes
Lath tries to block, but parry is futile
Lucius “what was that, he is a criminal”
Aldrick pulls gems from pocket, casts spell trapping Baron Issen’s soul
Lath, highly upset "do you know what he just did?
Lath rants about spell
Lucius defends as way to prevent evil soul from becoming demon
Aldrick, “this will be leverage when we negotiate with him”
Renli is highyl conflicted – binding soul is inherently evil, but tiefling/demon not same and if doing it will serve greater good, lesser evil is acceptable;
find small chest with ledgers, chalkboard, small statue, jars with soul worms (break jars)
Aldrick, “this is pointless, i am tired, let us go back to the army, i am tired from saving you all so much today”
Taer identifies fallen sarkorian tieflings as “Stormbloods”, clan that has fully gone over to service of Deskari
Head back, reconnect with army
Discuss loss of scouts, Anevia
Edoras and Lucius have brief go around regarding a scout’s duties
Edoras makes mention of going before “Our Queen, and wanting to be judged successful”
Aldrick and Renli both speak of success and living, Renli’s words are very moving for Edoras
Lathandar continues to scoff to the side
Aldrick casts Speak with Dead
– Issen is happy his soul did not go on to Abyss, because of demon contract
– Keepers Canyon, nearby town
– the small statue allowed Issen to speak with Jezebel (Templars of the Ivory Labyrinth)
– Tortured and raped Anevia, then sold her to “worse owner”
– Keeper’s Canyon, now home of “Baraxi, chief of Stormbloods”, have welcomed power of Daskari; Baraxi is unique in his power; about to call forth power from blood; does not call god to his side, but rather god possesses him; delight in freshly spilt blood on the storm winds
– Baraxi has new lover – “he is not what she appears to be” Incubus
– Baron Issen starts taunting Lathander, about “soul gem”, the Inquisition, makes reference to risen devil “ragathiel”
– Lath runs up behind Aldrick and tries to tackles him
– Aldrick off to see our own God Caller “Nora Deadwinter”
– Have demon contract with demon’s “true name” on it