Iomedae is my Strength.
As others take their rest, I remain a vigilant servant of the Inheritor. As the hours wary on I continue the humble task of cleansing and resetting this forgotten temple to Your Glory. The inquisitor Lucius was able to draw the power from a scroll blast the vile commitments made by Your fallen priest, returning this place to a normal state. Still, it does not yet radiate your peace and good will. This is something that must be rectified.
Radiate… yes, this blade, Radiance. It can shed light in darkness, yet the light it sheds burns far more brightly in my heart. Having it reshape in my hands, I feel that you have sent it, a gift to guide me in these dark hours. Likewise this cloak worn by the unholy filth, cast black by his evil nature, cleansed to pure white upon my shoulders. His journal tells of a tragic fall, a dark descent into madness, into oblivion. Your guidance is ever appreciated, Inheritor watch over me. Grant me warmth when I rest, allow me to recapture my strength so that I may serve you.
We are not alone, something has tried to control the Asmodean’s mind. I do not trust him, though there seems little reason for him to lie about such things at this moment. Like the rest of us, he seeks to return to the surface, though I doubt for the same reasons. Though our eyes betray us, You guide your ever-obedient servant. With the gift of sight You have granted me I can see the presence of this evil, lurking in the brazier above. I point it out, and several launch attacks into the air, but to no avail. Calling out the foul creature, it flies, still masked from our eyes, to another brazier across the chamber. Seeking a perch where I might reach it, I climb upon the high altar.
Realizing Aldrick’s mind is strong, the demon seeks weaker prey to control, and targets the Sarkorian. Though strong of body, his mind is overcome and he tries to crush me with his mighty hammer. Your blessings upon me, I narrowly evade the lethal blow. Lucius throws a rope up around the brazier and tries to bring it down, but to no avail. His eyes no longer clouded, I call on him to launch me up to the brazier. Using the might of his people, he vaults me up into the air, where I bring down my sword mightily upon the now visible demon cackling within. After Radiance’s first blow, the enchanter-demon begs for mercy, claiming that it will now serve me, but I have been warned of these lies from an early age. I will not be deceived or so lead into evil. You guide my hand and it proves no match for Radiance’s judgment, and I cast it down, body broken, upon the floor of the temple.
The strange medic Lathander scurries to the fallen demon. He precariously plays and pokes at the fallen beast. I thought he was ensuring its demise, but am rather surprised when he looks at me angrily, then excitedly exclaims that it still has some life. He works to tend its wounds, to which I protest, but the witch hunter Lucius demands that it be brought back to give forth any knowledge it may have of the attack on Kenabres, willing or unwilling.
The look of shock in Lathander’s eyes is awful. Like the rest of us he knows the tactics the witch hunters employ. He demands that no harm come to the creature, that it sought mercy and redemption, and it deserves the chance for it. Lucius is insulted by these words, demands that Lathander repeat the oath he took and follow his orders, a Witch Hunter and commander of the Crusade. The two descend into a fierce argument, Lucius threatens to execute Lathander on the spot for insubordination, and I can sense the evil descending into the hearts of my companions. Though dead, this demon’s corrupting presence plays on the hearts of my allies.
I have heard of a man, seeking goodness and redemption for evil, being corrupted in such a quest. I have likewise seen men call upon Your will as justification for cruelty against and persecution of innocents. This is a dark moment indeed. Iomedae guide me. Summoning my inner resolve, I step between the arguing company. I ask Lathander to realize that the fiend never sought redemption, nor would it likely, and only offers its services in return for self-preservation. I also point out that it just tried to control and kill us. I also speak to Lucius, asking him to seek his wisdom, and not strike down an ally in haste and anger. We all have different beliefs, those of us seeking a righteous path must work together.
In the end, Lathander agrees to the interrogation, though leaves the room as it occurs. The fiend is a quasit, a minor demon with some magical abilities, who spews threats and insults at Lucius and I. I hold the foul demon on the altar while Lucius goes to work. I have no issue with his tactics against demons, for they are horror reborn, but from his familiarity with the tools I fear he has employed similar tactics on mortals in the past. His skill is elite, and he draws forth the name of the creature’s master – Faxium – with ease. He gives us little else, but empty threats and promises. Lucius ends the creature with his cold iron dagger. The others are ready to be done with the place, so the move quickly to pack and depart. I am saddened to leave this temple to Her Glory, and as a parting act cleanse away the blood and filth left upon the altar by Lucius’s work with the last of my water. Offering a prayer, I plan to return and restore this place to its former glory.
The underground waterway I discovered on the previous eve seems to be weakening. We decide upstream is our course, with hopes that it will lead us to the surface. Still, there is the knowledge that something has stopped the water from flowing properly. Could our one path to the surface be blocked? At intervals the ground continues to shake, yet we press on. The river leads to a pool and a large cavern, with a fast rising wall and waterfall. As we seek a means up, foul creatures fall upon us from perches along the chamber’s ceiling. They appeared to be stalactites, but are in fact some beast, afflicted by the curse of the Worldwound. They seek only blood from us, and blood they find, though it is there own.
As the attack ends my kinsman Milo, nimblest among us, ascends the cliff seeking what path may lie above. Returning, he tells us of a large chamber with strange creatures, half-beast, half-man, speaking a strange dialect of Chelish. He warns they may be demons and we quickly move up the wall to confront our possible aggressors. Scouting ahead, I see them, trying to pry stones off of a fallen comrade. Lucius prepares to strike them down, claiming them to be Abyss spawn and agents of evil. I recall seeing evil in my past – I have seen them abandon their comrade in the face of danger. These two, deformed and twisted as they may be, struggle to free their companion, showing compassion. These are not demons.
Trusting in Iomedae’s guidance, I step forward and reveal myself, unarmed, offering my aid. They draw blades and take a defensive stance, it is clear they are as afraid of me as others might be of them. They said I am not welcome in their land and that they want no trouble from an Uplander. I again identify myself as a humble servant of the Inheritor, tell them of the horrors of the past day, and offer my aid. They start to relent when Lucius and Aldrick step forward. The deformed ones immediately return their guard, though I cannot tell if they are more afraid of the Witch Hunter or the Devil worshipper. They quickly reveal the persecution they have suffered at the hands of Witch Hunters, and from Lucius’ bearing, it seems he is ready to confirm their fears. Lucius orders me to stop and suggests again that we deal with the demon-spawn as he sees fit. I argue with Lucius that these are decent people who need our aid, and he relents. Together we lift the boulder from their fallen comrade.
In return for our aid I ask for assistance in seeking the surface. Lan, the leader among them, says he is forbidden to go to the surface by his uncle the chief. I ask Lan to be take us to meet his leader, so that I might ask him for aid. Lucius tries to silence me, again claiming them to be the enemy, that they will surely slaughter us if we go. We argue for a measure, whereupon I counter that I will then go alone, and if I do not return, they can move on without me. I agree to Lan’s terms that we go blindfolded and prepare. After a short pause, the rest of the company agrees to be blindfolded as well.
Hooded, we are lead through strange, winding corridors. At times I believe we have doubled back. It is clear that Lan and his company, the woman Drya and the hulking brute Krel, are trying to ensure that we do not know the way to their home. A wise caution. Eventually we arrive at their home, the town of Neathholm. Lan is initially confronted by guards who question our presence, but he tells of our aid and they escort us en masse to their leader. The structures are made of stone, and are simple if well made. The town stands upon a lake, which I believe may be the source of the river we encountered earlier. The citizens are deformed like the others, though each in their own way. As we approach they hide in their homes, fearful of the stories told of those who live on the surface.
Passing through the town, then into the great hall of their leader, I notice some symbols, marks, and relics of Kenabres and the Crusades, from the distant past. These people are a proud people, and the great hall is adorned with the heraldry of many of those great knights and families that took up arms in the First Crusade. Lan presents us to their leader, Chief Sol. Behind his altar hangs a grand banner of Iomedae, and in that moment I know we have been guided to an ally. Kneeling before the king, I offer respects and blessings, then ask of him aid in seeking the surface. Lucius is disgusted by the respect I give to this man, for all he sees is corruption, whereas I see a noble leader who still has his faith. Sol for his part has a wary eye on all of us, especially Aldrick and the Witch Hunter.
In our dialogue I reveal to Sol the truth of what has befallen Kenabres in its darkest hour. Lucius opposes my honesty with the chief, but in truth, even if I agreed with him, I would see no other course. I press on him to seek the fire in his heart, the strength in his faith, and held us seek the surface so we may confront the evil that their resides. He agrees to lead us to the surface, if first we deal with the evil that has lead astray some of his tribe. A woman had come and seduced many of the young to the worship of the Beastlord Baphomet, the same cult involved in some way in the attack on Kenabres. He warns that among those corrupted is a skilled hunter and tracker, Wendog. In this I see both a way to reach the surface and strike at those vile cultists who have brought ruin to Kenabres.
Our path is clear. We will not loose hope. We will fight this evil, and seek to take back our city. Iomedae’s blessing be upon us all.