A Troubled Economy

Alone in the dark, cold, wet...
Plans to yet overcome the orcs of Orcus

Alone in the room with two iron doors.

Cold and wet, I wait, tensely striving to hear even the slightest of sounds from the caves beyond. My body taut with tension. It seemed like several bells that I listened to the enormous orc bellowing and pounding the ground. However, using a sailor’s technique of counting moments to track time, I’m sure it was less than half a bell. His racket was truly terrifying and I felt a cold knot of stress and worry in my core.

I focussed on what I needed to stay alive. I needed to remain silent, and I needed to maintain the illusion of a rock wall between me and the beach, should my tormentors come nigh. The strain of it was tiring. Eventually I fell asleep, and woke some bells later. I can only assume it was some bells later, for my eyes were no longer scratchy, and the fatigue had seeped out of my bones, but was replaced by cold. My thoughts went briefly to the scorching inferno of a desert, just 50 miles away. I thought about how it felt to have my brain boiling inside my skull. The cold was just fine…

I tested my muscles. Not bad. A bit of soreness. That asshole priest’s flail struck me a glancing blow. Thankfully my nimbleness helped me dodge the greatest force behind it. I gotta kill that soul-blighted fiend! Rather, I need to persuade his lackeys to kill him for me! That would be much safer, and to be honest, more satisfying. I know they want to kill him as badly as I want him killed. That makes me smile…

I need to come at them unseen, and take control of their minds, or at least their imagination. If I can convince them that this leader has been holding them back, or will spell their doom, or that killing him serves the true will or Orcus… that might be the way to go. As I said, they already want to do it. I just need to convince them that they can succeed and that now is the time!

What is that? I hear sounds. I hear shouts! Cries of dismay and howls of anger! Those are my friends! They are clearly angry. It’s not the orcs or orc monster, I can tell. I hear Shino screaming in agony! I can not hope to rescue them, if that orc-monster is lurking between me and they. Slowly I must creep in that direction. It’s so dark in here, but I dare not create light, lest the orc-monster come and eat me, or worse, torture me in a prolonged and horrific state! Slowly I will creep. Using all my stealth and cunning I will take one step at a time, then listen long. Then another step, and listen long…

Finally I am to the iron door. Moving slower than the sun crossing the sky, I craned me head over and peered out of the doorway. No sign of orcs. I still hear arguing and a very strange, very frightening voice. No sign of orcs. Slowly I will creep to the ankheg hole.

Ah! I hear my friends… “Good morning, Danjo! Do you yet live?”

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Facing Fears

We had found ourselves separated in the depths, all of us together except for Tuck. The demon above wailed on the passageway we had all managed to escape down, even just barely. Danjo was relieved that Shino had not, in fact, died, a relief that was delivered to us by Pak-Pak. I was certain his gnarled, crunching body was gone, the last thing I heard before jumping into the caverns below. We were now in unfamiliar grounds, a demon above and mystery ahead. We were greeted by strange noises which we chose to not ignore, but not exactly deal with either. It was decided we would climb the walls of this cavern to explore a ledge far above out heads, however foolish it may be. The walls were, after all, covered in moss and slick residues, as Danjo had just learned, not moments before, when he fell, almost being impaled by a stalamite.

Yet we climb.

Thankfully, Sahil, ever resourceful, manage to commune with the spirits and shape ladder rungs into the stone itself, making the climb little worry. Unfortunately, the climb was not the factor we needed to worry about, as at the top, there were exploding runes that blasted many of us to near the same fate as Malakai, rest his soul. We were still winded from our escape from the demon, yet we managed to recover from the blast, just barely, deciding to press on. As we did, we continually heard a voice in the darkness, mocking everything we did in the most vile manor that it could.

In our exploration, we came across a rust monster. Weshtek told us what he new of them, worrying Danjo, as we were told they eat metal. His worry proved to be of little concern, as we made quick work of the beast. We found the paths back in the beast’s lair to have little use, so we made our way back to explore another direction. Without the aid of Mr. Arbuckle, we managed to activate the same trap a second time, this time being much more of a concern. Makoda fell to his death and his body seemed to attract a swarm of small creatures with buzzing wings. They looked fairly innocent, but upon Shino’s ascent from checking on Makoda, they swarmed on him, swifty draining the life from his body, not before he had set flame to several of them. I stayed back, a coward, fearing for my life, while my friends took out the rest of the vermin.

The events that came next all blur together as they may very well be the worst I’ve faced.

A swirl of laughing mist swooped down from near Sahil and I, and invaded the corpse of Shino. Danjo instinctively jumped from the cliff to try and save his second, almost falling to his death in the process. Shino now stood in front of him, ready for battle. Before we put Shino to rest, the mist reveled itself to be a wraith and asked to have a conversation with us.

This unnerved me on many levels.

For lack of seeing a better outcome, I asked what it wanted. It told us it would give us Shino back if we agreed to take care of some of it’s problems, one of them being murdering another being. Sahil and I were both taken aback by the idea. While we debated with ourselves if we would help, the wraith tormented Shino’s soul, twisting and contorting it from his body while it screamed in agony. Not wanting to see him suffer further, we set aside our adversity towards the idea of murdering another being. A quick death would be far less suffering then what Shino was going through.

Upon deciding this, the wraith wanted a blood oath to seal the deal. I knew myself, that was powerful magic. A blood oath to such an evil being did not sit right with me. I could see Sahil conflicted with it as well, but he still went through with it. Being that Sahil seems much more attuned to the Adama and the good nature in things, I followed suit, much to my dismay. Westhek was the only one of us either stupid, or brave enough to actually reject the wraith entirely. He attacked it with all his might as was cast aside like he was no more then a fly on a horse’s ass. We were forced to lacerate him while he lay unconscious, forcing him into the blood oath as well. The wraith told us that the demon was not actually a demon, but just power from an artifact it wore. This gave us a slight hope that we may be able to steal or destroy the artifact and be rid of that problem. It also told us of the Earthblood that lay below this place somewhere and that it wanted to study it.

This also unnerved me.

We settled our deal with the wraith and he kept his word, using his foul magic to bring Shino back to life, now covered in deep red runes. It was decided, we would venture forth, assuming the hin to be dead. We gave him the briefest of moments and continued on, most us near death ourselves, leaving little time for mourning. We were relieved to hear him, not long after that, alive and well. He too met the wraith and we explained our current oath to the beast to him. Being as level headed as he is, Tuck took it in stride and we carried on.

At least only one life was lost today…

I can’t help but feel the loss my fall on my shoulders. I’ve made oaths to gods that I haven’t kept, yet I’m trying my hardest to. Where I view my body as a vessel for Ilmater’s will, I also see no merit in jumping into combat if I truly have nothing to offer. Perhaps this is where I do not truly understand my new found deity. He was truly selfless, as I should be, not try to be.

Ilmater, give me time. I will prove to you I am worthy of your blessing. No more will I cower in fear, I will stand my ground. The helpless need not fear for their lives, as I will gladly pour out my own blood if it can save them. This bastard of an entity deserves nothing of my being, yet it has taken part of me out of my own fear. No more will I accept this of myself, I only hope the end will be quick for the one the wraith desires. Suffering is not needed, if anything, I will make sure of that.

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Tonight, we dine in OH FUCK THIS SHIT!

After a rest, recovering from the ordeal of the demon. Tuck talks with us, and offers to explore the cultist holdings, to gather information for us. I am grateful for his desire to aid us in eradicating the evil that is festing here in this mountain. Sahil casts some magics, but is not successful in learning anything more, so we are set to risk Tuck’s life while he explores.

Tuck returns, and has learned a great deal. It appears our chance is now, to take on the lead priest, and weaken their foothold. So we head out, only to discover the demon has returned. Not only has he returned, he is incredibly displeased with all of us. We turn to run, for the Ankheg pit. The choice sits like lead in my belly, for earlier I had just reprimanded Makota for being a coward, yet now we must turn and flee. Any demon that can thwart the gods is something beyond my abilities. Perhaps the world is doomed?

While running away, I use the last of the arrows given to me by Donjo, and manage to score a blow. The demon is unfazed. I begin casting assorted defensive magics, preparing myself for the inevitable fight that is certain to take place.

I make it past the fecal matter, not observing Shino or Rakor in my haste to stay out of the way of the demon, as well as keep him in my vision so I could know his tactics. Soon, an explosion ripped through the caverns. I know not what happened, but we managed to escape down into the Ankheg hole, avoiding the demon.

We lost Shino, which is a tragic blow to our morale. I will miss Shino. A bit rough around the edges, but a fine person nonetheless.

I am beginning to wonder how we will thwart a cult that is so engrained into this mountain that they can thwart the very efforts of the gods themselves.

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Tales of the Spear-Sundabar

Rakor points to an image of a black circle, surrounded by a blue circle, surrounded by another black circle, with a large “x” across.

“Sundabar,” he says with a slight distain, allthough it sounded understanding, “This was not a good city to be an orc with only a savage tongue. My tribe was not kind to the city or the traders that were foolish enough to try to travel topside. Many of our provisions were stolen from caravans making their way to the Citadel,”

Rakor looks away, seemingly ashamed of his past, “Even saints started as a man, not all of us will have a pristine past,” he seems emboldened, “Even the best of man can come from a sorted past.

“I hadn’t be long in the wild, coming across the walls of the city. My provisions were low, I decided to give an honest attempt at finding a dry alleyway to spend sometime. That evening, I waited for the first foolish man to wander down the road alone and I robbed him. I used my brutish blood and terrified him enough to take his belongings, then bound him as we did to boars, and left him where I was sure he would at least be found, hopefully before other orc. I used the cloak he wore to fashion myself a hood and scarf and gathered what would fit of his gear, disguising myself as the average man to the best ability I could. Approaching the city guard, I kept my head low and my gait straight, and they paid me little mind. I was able to get inside the city, wherein I found a few dry hiding spots and managed to steal small amounts of food and recover from my fight with the nightstalker. I knew of Many-Arrows and decided to make my way there, as it would likely be the safest place for my kind…”

Rakor looks sheepish, yet relieved, “Not all the stories will be tales of wonder and glamour, Weshtek,” the old orc says, “All men have a past that shapes them, they shouldn’t replace their darker times with only tales of glory. Hardship is what truly makes the man…”

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Trials from The Broken God

It was agreed that we would send Sahil’s insect scouts once more, after much discussion between Tuck and I. The bugs returned quickly, before we even made it back to the room with the iron doors. Apparently, magic had prevented them from penetration. Much to my initial concern, we went with Tuck’s original plan, he would leave a silver coin on the stairs if he succeeded, no coin, we were to assume him to be imprisoned.

He returned after not too terribly long, telling us of six robed men, sounding similar to the one we saw in the last turn of events. Three of them wanted to kill another of them, who seemed to be aware of Tuck’s presence, so he returned to us, only to be back in discussion of what to do. Sahil and I, both unaccepting of leaving the tortured souls to get help, but also not seeing the point in strictly dying to powerful magics we had just faced. Still unsure, we did the safest thing we could, send the hin, for he is glib and fleet of foot.

We waited considerably longer this time, fearing Tuck’s death. Alas, he returned with a tale. He was worn out, but he insisted now was the time to attack. Bolstered by the harbormaster’s tale, he made way to the door, only to hear the terrible voice and see the horrifying image of the demon who had just turned me and Danjo to pulp.

Ilmater, I am unsure what this test is to prove, but I will give my vessel once more, if to save my friends from this hellish mightmare.

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Infiltrating the cult of Orcus
Umm...it's not DEAD!!!!!!!

After much discussion around our camp, Sahil sent his insect scouts to explore the temple of Orcus, but they came back after less than a minute. They were prevented by some “thing” or force. I then headed down myself, eager for the challenge, but nervous about the demon that killed Rakor and Danjo. I ensorcelled myself to run very fast, and read thoughts.
Quietly I moved into the first room. The blood, gore, and slaughter were truly frightening. Screams of agony and horror filled the air. It was very reminiscent of the time I spent in the drow city. My thoughts returned there with dread, which I quickly set aside. I survived that environment for years. I would be here for mere moments. There was a tapestry on the wall depicting a huge, horned monstrosity, I can only assume represents Orcus (from what Sahil told me later). There were two passages, one on my right and one across from the stairs. I headed down the hall across from the stairs. It was a long hallway with one door on the right and two on the left. The whole place was pitch dark. I had 4 dancing lights as my illumination. The long hall bent to the right slightly and around the corner about 30 feet I saw a room illumined by two flickering torches. I heard voices arguing in Abyssal. They were vying for the chance to conduct an upcoming ritual and they all seemed to want the privilege. (Now I believe it was the ritual to bring their demon back).
I crept closer and saw on the right side of the room there was a tapesty of Orcus on a throne of dead bodies. Thousands were being slaughtered before him. On the left side of the room was a table, around which six assholes in armor and black robes with hoods were sitting. There was a passage leading out and to the left at an any behind them. Six zombies walked in from that tunnel. I was able to detect thoughts of three of the assholes. They were in a murderous rage and wanted to kill the leader of the priests (for I’m certain they were all priests), so they all knew he was an asshole too. The leader, however, was quiet, and he alone detect the intrusion of my spell. He looked to the hallway where I lurked, but saw me not. He said, “Silence fools! We’re not alone!” I decided to withdraw. I ran silently back to the main room and turned to my left, which was the tunnel on the right when I entered. There was another room and a table and chairs. A tunnel headed to the left from there and I saw it joined with the room where the six assholes had been. From there I ran back to the rest of the party.
I was quite pleased to have gained some important information, and I was eager to share it. While the trip was fresh in my mind, I sketched a map of the area into Weshtek’s book. I told them all I could recall. Then I asked about the horned monster in the tapestries and that’s when Sahil told me it is Orcus and he told me Orcus is a demon-god of the Undead. He told me Orcus is seen as impatient and cruel.
I proposed that I go back and search more. Makota said he thought we should stay away from them for several days and explore other parts of the complex. Weshtek grew wrothful and call Makota a coward. I argued that we should not give the cult too much time to plan and we should infiltrate while they are still off balance. It was decided that was our course, so once more I headed down. This time I made myself invisible, as well as swift. I descended to the temple, using dancing lights once again. Again it was full dark but the howls of agony were absent. In the entry-room I went to the right and then left in empty hallways. I entered the room where the six assholes were earlier, but it was empty and dark. I followed the new passage to a room filled with instruments of torture. Human organs and limbs lay about. I could tell this was a place of instruction in the art of cruelty and agony infliction. I cast a spell to let me see secret doors. There were none. I could see a tunnel that led away to the right. About thirty feet down the worked stone quit and natural stone continued, but it was there that I was caught.
Suddenly a three priest came upon me from behind. I could see they were all orcs. The leader said, “We can see you. Your invisibility has failed. Why are you here?”
“I am here to join your cult,” I said gamely.
“Ha! A puny thing like you. How did you find us?”
“I was called here by the voice of Orcus. I want to join with you.”
“Why?” The huge armored priest sneered at me and waved his morning star menacingly.
“I want to kill and maim. I want revenge for what the world has done to me. I want to bring the power of Orcus forth,” I said with venom in my voice.
“Ha! You weak thing! I will show you maiming, and the power of Orcus!”
I knew that the only way to get respect from a group of power-mad homicidal assholes, was to appear strong. I knew that they will only respect strength and power and I must show them something. My spells target the will of the victim, and priests train to overcome such techniques, however, I have a spell that can make the victim an idiot who is easy to control. The head priest had a good chance to resist, but it was the best chance I had. With no warning I stepped forward and touched the armored orc-priest. I uttered my incantation and I saw him harden his resolve and throw off the power.
He looked at me with rage! “You will suffer long for that!” He struck at me with his morning star, which made a glancing blow. The pain was terrible! Meanwhile his two lackeys both cast spells at me to trap me! I resisted the spells! I cast Mirror Image and the head priest dispelled it! They tried to cast Hold Person on me! I resisted! I cast Obscuring Mist and quickly tumbled between them and ran down the hall. Thankfully my speed was enhanced! One of them clipped me with his morning star, I don’t know which it was. I was wounded even more.
They ran at me and cast more spells to hold me in place. I easily resisted and ran on. I stopped again, cast Color Spray, stunning the lackeys, and away I ran once more! That was my tactic, use my superior speed to cast a spell, then run 50 feet or so. I headed up the stairs and turned to cast one more spell. One of the lackeys was on my heels. I made him hear the voice of Orcus command him to obey me! Suddenly he was under my control. He was shaking with fear! He told his allies, ‘We need to obey him! My dark lord just spoke to me and told me so! We hear his voice all the time and I know it was him!" There was some argument between the three of them. I cast the spell one more time, this time both the lackeys came under my power. I told them to kill the unbeliever so they attacked the head priest! The head priest grabbed one lackey on his face, and melted it off. The lackey died in agony. The other priest fought on, delivering powerful blows to his former master, ordering him to obey me. I watched them fight, back and forth, back and forth for nearly a minute! I paid close attention to how the head priest moved, feinted, blocked and attacked. He was quite skilled. Finally the lead orc killed my erstwhile thrall and started after me! I swallowed the potion of Mirror Image that Sahil gave me in case of emergency. I could have easily outrun the armored orc, but I wanted him to follow me to the base camp where my companions and I could all kill him easily. I taunted him and ran slower than I had the potential to run. I wanted him to think he could close in on me.
When I got to the door where Sahil shaped the stone, he stopped there and taunted me. Then he returned the way we just came.
I ran to the base camp. I told my allies that this was a prime chance to kill their leader while he was wounded and depleted on spells. We quickly ran that way. At the door where Sahil cast Stone Shape we heard a thunderous BOOM BOOM BOOM! Orc bodies were flung around and a massive orc with demon wings burst through the stone wall! My liver turned to jelly! Makota shouted, “Quick! To the ankheg pit!” I did not recall that being a large hiding area and decided against going there. Everyone else started to run, most notably Rakor and Danjo. They said this was the demon that killed them practically effortlessly the day before!! Now my blood was like ice-water!! I was certain my companions said their guardian spirit said the demon would be captive forever! That was clearly not true!
I ran as fast as I could to the room with two iron doors. I was alone. I left the entry door ajar and went to the opposite door. I took some effort to raise the iron bar, then pull the door open. Then I entered the water that leads to a stream, and swam to the back of the cave. I discovered a small beach there. It was pitch black. I cast an illusion spell to make a natural cavern wall appear around the beach. Hopefully if any orcs come in, they will be fooled by my illusion. If they find me, I must try to swim out of here, trusting to my luck! I’d rather drown in the stream, than be their captive without any spells… I prayed for the safety of my friends. I prayed like it was my first time! I prayed like I thought it might do some good! I prayed to keep from crying…

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Forgiveness and apology
Tuck has ranks in storytelling
“I forgive you all,” Tuck muttered, not very loudly. “I understand your draw to explore and defeat evil.” Gradually his voice increased in volume. He spoke with uncharacteristic seriousness. “I feel badly that you believed I wouldn’t join you in exploration and peril. I saw no reason to face a basilisk, which I believed was in the caverns. For weeks we’ve been in this place, and it seems all we face are undead. There is practically nothing I can do to fight undead. None of my magics and none of my skills are effective them. “You went and faced such dire peril that two were killed, and I did not help, nor share in the danger. That is not who I am. I have not pulled my weight recently, and I am simply thankful that somehow Danjo and Rakor were resurrected. And you, friend Rakor, I have seen you searching for answers lately, much as you were in Assur. You appear to have found your answers. You will be a fine servant to Ilmater, in fact, he’s fortunate to have one so devout as a follower “Finally I think we face a foe, where I can be of help. They appear to be mortal men, elves, hin, whatever. I would like to go ahead of you all and scout them out. I think I can infiltrate them and discover their secrets. Mayhap, it was the gods who guided my ass, to sit on the steps while you last delved down and discovered them,” Tuck said, smiling broadly. “No offense intended, Rakor. Those cultists haven’t seen us together, so I think this is something we can use to our advantage.” “Tonight, after dinner, I will tell you another story of the sailer, Surian of the Windy Sea Rider. As you recall, it was he who saved his crew when the ship was becalmed. He ate all the beans in the ships hold and used his ‘gas’ to fill the sails and they arrived at an island of all horny women. I guess I haven’t told that one to Weshtek and Rakor. Well tonight, I will tell you of the time he fell over board during a boarding action. He couldn’t swim and he sunk to the bottom, but he came back up as a watery king wearing a pearl crown! It’s quite a good story!” Tuck walked to Danjo, and bowed at the waist, “You’re resilience is quite remarkable, Sir Danjo.”
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Tales of the Spear- The First Hunt

Rakor points to another pictograph, near the very first one he made. It depicts the same emblem he uses to represent himself in all the other stories. He is standing over a apparent felled beast with a scaled skin. The scales are grey, and the talons are as black as you could make. Rakor’s emblem stands triumphant, spear held strongly in one fist, tip pointed to the ground.

“This, Weshtek, is the story of my first kill. Not long after Waq’t’na gifted it to me, I was forced to defend myself in the wild. Likely could smell my provisions,” the half-orc chuckles, “Foolish mistakes in a early age, anyways…,” he leans in, as if a child telling ghost stories, his aged face, growing in vitality with the tale…

“The days were just as harsh as the nights. Where the cold would tear you to the bone in the night, the sun would damn near burn the flesh from them! The beasts in the day were no less savage, but for the most part, it was the nightstalkers I would worry about. I still do not know what they were, but they were a fierce foe indeed. Their scaled hide was tough to penetrate, even by a spear.”

He points to the hide he currently is wearing and winks, “It still is, all these years later. The key to good armor is a strong hide to build it from, but I digress…,” he sinks back into the childlike wonder of his story…

“The beast had snuck up on me making camp, I was fatigued from the day, not yet had a safe spot to eat sense early dawn. Luckily, I knew to keep my spear close, that and my orcish blood affords me nightsight. I snatched up my spear and huntched low, keeping my back away from the beast, spear at the ready. We circled for a few rounds and it lunged at me. A far quicker foe then I had anticipated,”

Rakor points to his deep scar that runs across his right eye, “Damn near lost an eye in the first week away from the tribe. Hardly a hunter, I’m surprised I’ve lived this long. I have to wonder if my new found purpose has anything to do with it. Perhaps Ilmater saw me as a fitting disciple before even I knew of him,” Rakor looks lost in thought for a moment, “Ah, but again, I ramble from the story…,”

“Blood poured quick from my eye, giving the beast the advantage as it poured into my eye. The beast seemed to give into a blood frenzy on the sight of my weakened state. It lunged a second time and I stuck him good, sinking the spear far into his abdomen. I stood, carrying my force with me, forcing the beast onto its back, giving the spear a quick snap, I quickly pulled it from the wound and plunged it with all my might a second time. The beast lay still, a fatal wound serving it a well fought, death. From this beast, I carved out a couple days of meat to dry, a scaled hide, and it took the largest talon it had, likely the one the almost took my eye,”__

The orc motions to the hilt of the spear, a long black talon, curved away from the body, rests at the end, wrapped in an aged leather strap. The talon is sharp to the touch, and could be used as a close quarters weapon if needed.

“The Black-Thorn, I dubbed it, taking my namesake from the beast as respect,” he says, motioning to the talon, “The leather that secures it was also taken from that beast, my first hunt treated me well, Do you remember your first hunt, Weshtek?”

The aged half-orc looks to the man from Chult with the same childlike wonder he has shown with the story…

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Beyond the special door

We ventured into the room, past the special door into a room filled with loud music. The moment we entered, the volume of the music diminished, and black vine like growths went shooting down the walls, leading to stairs going down.

Filled with trepidation, we proceeded to follow where the vines lead. Down a spiraling staircase, until we found a intersection. To the right, a short passage with a door that eminated evil. To the left, another passage. We followed the passage.

We entered into a large room, and we see 3 dessicated corpses and a lone figure sitting in a chair. We talked to him briefly before he commanded the corpses to attack us.

We dispatched the undead quickly, and were turning to dispatch this foe when he quickly ran away. We started to give chase when several robed individuals rushed forth to battle with us.

Danjo and I stepped up, holding the rush in a bottleneck. We started working them over, slowly killing the mob. Just as victory felt imminent, another horde of cultists arrived from the other passage. We were most effectively surrounded.

Yet for all that, having heard their leader command children to be slowly killed, we were enflamed with righteous fury and held our ground. With tactical precision, Shino began burning the hordes, I used some magic to quell their assault and continued to strike at each foe within my reach.

We were doing it. We were going to win through, when a horrific spell of utter evil came rolling in. It wiped out all the cultists and even the raised corpses of the fallen. The evil washed over us, and while it carved deep into our souls, we held strong.

Then, a being of pure evil appeared. Tall, viscious, black armored and covered in blood. He yelled, screamed and taunted us. I felt my death in my bones staring at such evil. Knowing I was going to die, I accepted my fate and denounced him.

Then Rakor dropped his spear, he walked towards the demon holding his holy symbol high, praying to his new god. I felt hope begin to pulse within my heart. We had righteousness on our side. Then the demon crushed his skull, breaking his spine and utterly destroying Rakor’s body.

I felt cored. Disoriented, I watched as Danjo stepped up, screaming and managed to get in some hits, before being utterly destroyed by the demon as well.

Watching the destruction of all I know fall around me, I felt despair crushing down upon me. I felt utter loss. I knew I was going to die today. Then, the power of Ubtao took hold. I felt myself grow emboldened. So be it. If I am to die today, let it be fighting against an evil so powerful it warps the very fabric of reality.

I stepped up, swinging. Screaming out in fury. My blow was ineffective against the demons armor. He contemptuously smacked me aside, not worried about my futile efforts to thwart him. When suddenly, light begin to pulse from his breast. It held him in painful rigor.

Then a being of blue light appeared. He looked like the guy that healed Danjo earlier. He came forth, and denounced the demon. I watched as the demon burned and was taken away by the light of Illmater.

Stunned, I turned. Hoping to see Rakor and Danjo returned whole, only to see their crushed bodies, which soon glowed with blue light, then disappeared. Leaving their wordly possessions behind. I could not contain my loss. I cried out. I started my death rituals for the fallen. Letting all the agony, all the loss, fill my actions. To lose such powerful, noble companions. Their loss reminds me of the loss of the heroes of my youth.

Then, from the stairs, Rakor emerged! He was alive! I could not contain my joy, and swept him into a hug! What a miracle! To be destroyed by the demon, only to be returned whole and healthy! Ubtao, I mean Illmater be praised! Then I see Shino, who was feeling the loss of Danjo more then any of us, cry out. Danjo was also returned to us, whole and healthy!

The blessings of the gods were upon us. I felt ready to take on all that is evil in this location. To purge it so that the holiness of our gods could return to reclaim this place, allowing the dead to continue their rest. My friends managed to temper my ardour, and it was agreed that we would retire to our room, to rest and recover from such an ordeal.

Illmater. I do not follow you, nor do I know you well. With the guidance of Rakor, I will learn more about you, and I give you praise for your works.

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The Death and Rebirth of Rakor Blakthorn

It is not often a man gets to die and live to tell the tale…

Beyond the bronze door lay a plethora of amazingly awful things. The first thing we noticed was black vines retreating away from us, the music stopping as they did so. We were greeted by deep voice, and shortly after, we were swarmed by cultists. Not a single one of us backed down, we fought through, making quick work of the cultists. In the heat of battle, we allowed ourselves to get flanked by a sea of enemies, but that did not slow us one bit. Shino immediately threw his fire magics out while we finished off the ones down our hallway, hope was there, this battle could be turned in our favor!

Just as the tides seemed to turn, they turned against us once more as a blood soaked demon appeared, his presence killing both living and undead in the room. Luckily, we weren’t immediately destroyed like they were, but we were filled with the sense of dread, knowing our deaths would soon follow.

Looking at my allies, I knew we were certainly doomed. There was one thing that came to my mind.

Ilmater.

My new found deity. His patron saint did not choose me for nothing. We spoke of selflessness, the visions were completely clear to me now. The One on the Rack, The Broken God, hear my prayer, for it is all I have to offer and I fear the end would be for all of us.

I approached the demon, laying down my spear and accepting my fate. There was no fear in the knowledge of events to come. I accept my fate, I just want my allies to live, I want my FAMILY to live.
Holding my holy symbol high and strong I spoke out,

“I offer my being in hopes to end the suffering of my allies and the suffering this being has caused. Ilmater, take me as you would sacrifice yourself to endure the pains of my allies. I do not make this request for me, but for those who are otherwise doomed. I accept my end, Ilmater, I am at your will.”

I was told that shortly after this prayer, my skull was crushed and my body eviscerated in the most gruesome fashion. The demon made short work of Danjo as well after my end.

Just when all hope was lost, the same blue hued light erupted in a hand, binding the demon in place.

Alaric, patron saint of Ilmater, showed from the heavens, hearing my plea. He opened a gateway to another plane and banished the demon in the most painful way. The demon’s face twisted and distorted until he was phased from existence. My family was saved after all, my sacrifice worth the price.

To my surprise, I found myself in the stairwell we came down, fully nude, but I could hear the screams of agony from down the hall along with the mourning of Danjo and myself. I rounded the corner to gather my things and was greeted by a bearhug from Weshtek, all too happy to see me alive. Danjo too, came down the stairs, Ilmater having mercy on both of us. After some skepticism from Makoda, they accepted we were not apparitions of evil and we returned to the room with the iron doors to recover from the events we just endured.

My mind is finally at ease, my conflict at rest.

Ilmater, I thank you. I am truly at your will.

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