Iomedae is my strength.
A distant cry pierces the stillness of night, echoing through alleys and off rooftops. There is a haunting emptiness within Kenabres, yet I know not fear, for you are with me. Your virtues and radiance guide me, granting me the faith to face each challenge renewed. We are on the edge of eternity, the mouth of the Abyss, and tis likely that I will never leave this city, but ever you are with me. To that end I will serve you however you see fit.
We arrive at the merchant’s mansion, Lucius and Aldrick seeking the wealth of stores that supposedly lay within. The outer gates are open and unlocked, not a flame can be seen burning within the manor house beyond the gates. Cautiously we follow the pathway toward Gwerm’s home. To the left stands the silhouette of another building – a carriage house, indicated as such by the ruined carriage before it. No weapons harmed the transport, but rather the claws of some fowl beast – a “howler” the Sarkorian says. Some primordial drive takes over him and he sets of with my kinsman to hunt the beast, expressing concern that he would not want it to return and flank us, catching us unaware.
At first glance, Gwerm’s mansion appears to be a small castle, but with just a little inspection it is clear it was built for form rather than function. The ground floor walls are adorned with stained glass – pleasant for entertaining guests, but death to any trying to use it as a fortification. A loss for us.
Like the gates, the front door is ajar. Gwerm has grown even more nervous than he has been throughout our time together. Somehow he thought his wealth would have protected him against the might of the demon horde – a fool. Terendelev struck down and the wardstone destroyed, the mightiest duo laid low, what did he think?
Stepping through the doors, a large mansion stretches before us. We are greeted by a sense of emptiness and loss – this does not bode well. I would rather an enemy waiting, blades raised, then the linger of dread hanging like an unseen enemy. A once-beautiful fountain greets those entering, two statues mounted at the center. The first is a woman holding a merchant’s scale, her face defiled and the desecrated with the remains of the fallen. Before her a smaller armored statue holding a hammer – the pair are both icons of Abadar, Keeper of the Vaults and Judge of the Gods. A business ploy or a personal faith? I think the former, given his willingness to pledge allegiance to the Asmodian for a hefty sum despite my honest pledge to protect him freely. Examining it, the sullied pool casts dark, haunting images into my mind, but You quickly drive them out. Several others start to succumb, but we free them easily.
Moving down the foyer, we enter the first door to our right, and discover a kitchen still largely intact. Yet cast upon the floor is the corpse of a woman, which has been both torn at and feasted upon. Gwerm falls to his knees, succumbing to the pains of the heart. He cries out for his loyal housekeeper and cook, who has been with him for so many years. I reach for some linens and dress her body – no one should be left to be observed, by man or the gods, in such a manner.
Rat Demon (abrikandilu)
As we explore the kitchen further, a strange noise is heard from a dark corner. A stocky demon strikes, with the face of an obese rat and claws like daggers. The lady’s assailant has been found. The name Abrikandilu echoed in the back recesses of my mind. It struck at us cruelly, yet we took it down fast. Helena and the girls set about collecting supplies, including the meat discoverd in the magically cooled pantry, while Anevia took watch.
Exiting the chamber, we entered into the dining hall, were the captain of the guard was found splayed out on the table, the main course at a feast by more demons. To the side lies the body of the stableman, though unlike the others he has been struck down by a blade. Crows and vultures tried to pick at him, reminding me of the Vrock we encountered earlier. Like the cook, I cover both bodies and offer a blessing, I will lay them to rest when I have the next chance. For now best to always be on our guard.
The Abandoned Study
The stablehand fell before the door to Gwerm’s study, as though guarding it. The chamber is adorned with books and maps of shapes and sizes. As we explore the chamber we hear more noises from beyond the desk – at first fearing another demon, we prepare for battle. But then the distinct sound of a child’s whimper echoes forth – it is the stablehand’s daughter. Gwerm is able to coax her from her hiding spot, and indeed, is kind and fatherly with her. Lucius steps forward intent on interrogating her, but several others raise protest while I assist Gwerm in comforting her. She calms and Gwerm takes to her care.
While the others seek Gwerm’s stores, I return to the kitchen to check on the others. Anevia is there to protect them, but there are so precious few of us, it is hard to both push onward while also protecting a stable point.
Returning to the study, they have ascended to the upper level, then descended down into the vault, accessible through a trap door set below the floor, which can only be reached via the magic of a black hole. The vault is sizeable, with books and maps filling on series of shelves, and gold the other. At the far end is Gwerm’s real business desk and he leads us down further into the vault. He begins speaking of the things here, while he handles a small porcelain horse. Suddenly, he and the girl disappear. A magical escape, we surmise that the horse must have been some form of escape key. Though I wish he had taken the others who are not able to defend themselves, I cannot fault him for seeking refuge. It is the normal desire of man to survive, and in his action he took perhaps the youngest child left alive in Kenabres. A grim thought, my mind wanders to the House of the Hallowed Shield and the many wounded and orphaned within.
We start to examine the maps, which include trade routes around the Worldwound, and well as secret routes to strategic points within the Worldwound, including to the lost city of Drezen. These may prove useful should we survive the city.
CRASH! As we discussed the maps, the door to the vault slammed shut. Rushing back, it opens at our touch, though there had been immediate concern that we were now locked within. Emerging, we realize the upper study’s door is now open. Something is here with us. Taking to the catwalk cautiously, Lucius and I approach Gwerm’s bedchamber. Opening the doors, the chamber looks as one might expect for a wealth merchant, especially the canopy bed. The curtains on it are drawn, and as I step forth, I use my blade to pull them aside. A woman is cast on the bed, her throat slit. From his earlier description she appears to be the stablehand’s wife. God rest her soul.
Suddenly I am beset by two more Rat Demons, one strikes from beneath the bed then erupts up through, the other bursts forth from the armoire. Battle ensues and the others descend on the room. A third flanks us from behind, trapping us in the room just as the screams of pain and battle are heard below.
Blood Demon (babau)
Iomedae forgive me, I have failed in my duties to protect our companions! The battle’s focus turns toward the beast blocking the door, and as we lay the creatures low we each leap over the railing of the catwalk, dropping to the floor below to rescue our charges. The sounds of battle and the fury of magic can be heard within the now closed doors. Bursting into the room it is near black, yet Your blessing lends me sight. Anevia is done, bleeding out. Helena and Aravash are both severely hurt. A hideously creature, incredibly thin yet equally muscled, its skin the color of blood, stands menacingly within, a large sword in its hands. It cackles as we descend on it, then teleports away, removing the darkness. Aldrick lays an infernal blessing on Anevia and by Your Grace I seem to be able to mend some of Helena’s wounds.
Lathander calls out from the great hall “It is here!” where he tries to confront the beast. A poor choice indeed. Rushing to his side I draw Radiance and a brilliant light bursts forth, casting away the darkness of the demon. Just as I arrive, the demon teleports back. The game continues. Yet his play has allowed some of our allies to regroup.
“Join us, Lucius”
The creature pauses his assault curiously, and turning to Lucius, entices him to go with the demon, as though tempting a drunk back to the bottle. This resonates within me, a fear, not of pain, but of corruption. Lucius has asked me to sense evil with my Angelsight before – was a demon trying to possess him. The blood demon, a Babau I think, states it would be so much easier if he’d only join them. Otherwise, there would be only death.
Death for the demon – we strike at it mightily. Aldrick’s infernal words command the creature to “Sit Puppy” and Asmodeus’ blessing makes a mockery of the Abyss, dropping the Blood Demon to the group. Our fury is unleashed, and with Your blessing guiding me I strike at it with blade and shield. The foul creature is no more.
The grand ballroom offers another macabre artwork – three of Gwerm’s servants adorn the chandelier. As I lower them to offer respects, Taer returns with the broken body of Milo and the head of a demon cat, the aptly named Howler. Lathander’s potions restore life to Milo while we set about taking stock of the day.
What will be our next step, I know not. Yet I know I will always walk in Your Light, and in Your Light I will no neither fear, nor pain, nor defeat.
Iomedae is my Strength.