Shemeska's Planescape Storyhour - (Updated 18June2024)

Tsuga C

Adventurer
Very, very intense. Annihilating an entire civilization is quite a feat, particularly one as dominant as Netheril. That's an awesomely horrific feather in the Ebon's cap.
 

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Shemeska

Adventurer
Vorkannis never thinks small-scale. It's in his nature. There's worse to come. The next few updates will have some major plot development.
 

Coroc

Hero
Dear Shemeska, i registered here mainly for discussions in the D&D 5E thread but this also gives me the opportunity to thank you for the most awesome storyhour on enworld. I would love to play in a campaign like yours. The tension of the plot is better than many books, and combined with your ability for cliffhangers it is almost like a torture of the Shemeska in your story to wait for the next update.
I also started to read your planescape story hour 2 and i hope that you also finish the writing on that one once this storyline here is complete.
 

Shemeska

Adventurer
Dear Shemeska, i registered here mainly for discussions in the D&D 5E thread but this also gives me the opportunity to thank you for the most awesome storyhour on enworld. I would love to play in a campaign like yours. The tension of the plot is better than many books, and combined with your ability for cliffhangers it is almost like a torture of the Shemeska in your story to wait for the next update.
I also started to read your planescape story hour 2 and i hope that you also finish the writing on that one once this storyline here is complete.

Thank you so much! You flatter me!

I've really enjoyed writing it, and I really wish that at some point I could get my original Planescape group back together for a game, though that was when we were all in college and we've since dispersed about the country. Life, jobs, etc.

As for the 2nd storyhour, I can't promise to continue on that one until I'm finished with this first one. I'll get there, though it'll take some years still. But that being said, I'm going to post the next update as soon as I respond to you here. :D
 

Shemeska

Adventurer
The climb back down the face of Karsus’s petrified corpse was slow and daunting, significantly more difficult than the initial climb up from the ground. Making the trek even more difficult was the dour mood that blanketed the group, reflected in their expressions and the utter lack of conversation. Even Nisha, normally chatty to a fault simply looked down at the ground, frowning and her tail limply twitching like a sick serpent and not a rattle of her silver tail bell to be heard.

Tristol was worse off than the others: he’d experienced it all first hand and out of them all the magical vision would have been the most traumatic of all. His understanding of Netherese history –and by extension his own as a native of that empire’s successor state Halruaa– had been shaken to the core, and there was no getting around the fact that he’d watched a prior iteration of his patron goddess die and listened to her killer laugh, smirking and delighted in the aftermath as Netheril’s flying cities fell to their doom.

For all of the understanding that Karsus’s pride and warped, foolhardy desire to be his culture’s savior had doomed Netheril, it was much more complicated than that simple history lesson that Tristol had grown up with. The Ebon had been responsible, if not directly, than indirectly for everything. The future Oinoloth had pulled on the archwizard’s pride and led him about like a puppy seeking a treat or barking before fetching a brandished and tossed rubber ball.

Tristol knew that there would be a reckoning. Vorkannis would pay for what he did, no matter how long it took to accomplish. The Lady of Mysteries would be avenged and…
“Tristol!” Clueless shouted, breaking the wizard from his obsessive thoughts. “You can let go of the rope, we’re at the bottom…”

Tristol blinked and looked up at the bladesinger. Reluctantly he let go of the rope, his fingers white from having gripped it far tighter than he’d need to retain a safe hold during the descent. He sighed and nodded, glancing at Nisha and managing a smile as she randomly stuck out her tongue and made a face.

She was going her best and yes, she was helping him, but it would take time. He felt numb. Shocked by it all, enraged beyond words and nearly insensate with despair, he’d been virtually silent since initially explaining what he’d seen: the genocidal toying of the future Oinoloth and the fiend’s mocking laughter. There was something more however, and he hadn’t fully come to grips with what it meant himself, nor had he tried to explain it to the others: the crackle of silverfire at his fingers when he’d pledged himself to taking revenge on Mystra’s behalf.

Silverfire was a unique gift, reserved for her Chosen and… he shook his head, bewildered by the possibility that she might have selected him for such an investiture, if that indeed was what he’d experienced. Once they were back in Sigil or at least simply away from the Dire Wood and the reminders of the ‘loth taint to Netheril’s fall he’d be praying to Mystra and hoping for some guidance.

First though, there had to be some manner of discussion with Taba.


****​


The altraloth was there waiting at the base of the petrified godisle, still present in the form of a great wyrm fang dragon with luminous red-violet eyes. Clearly bored and idling away her time, a struggling, flailing zombie corpse dressed in rags and rusted, millennia-old armor lay on the ground, pinned down by a single one of her claws. Smirking, she glanced down at the creature and slowly, excruciatingly pressed the claw deeper into its chest until it pierced the zombie’s spine.

“We saw it all…” Tristol spoke as they approached the archfiend. “I did anyway.”

Taba smiled from a dozen mouths formed de novo for the expression. Without looking up she lifted one draconic forearm, hefting the zombie stuck to the claw like an insect on the end of a collector’s pin before snorting and flicking the claw, effortlessly hurling the creature into the forest where it finally connected with a petrified tree with a sickening crunch and lay there, still and perhaps finally, truly dead.

“Good,” Taba smirked, “Now perhaps you understand why I had you mortals come here in the first place. Do you understand that we share an enemy?”

“That doesn’t make us friends.” Clueless rolled his eyes, “You did after all kill me the last time we met. That wasn’t enjoyable.”

“And I could do it again just as easily,” The archfiend’s eyes, all twenty of them, danced with lurid internal flames and as she chuckled, the scales of her gut radiated a visible heat. “But you things of meat and soul are much more useful as allies of convenience, or at least aware of my motivations and so no longer a thorn in my side.”

Fyrehowl narrowed her eyes, “So other than not like the Ebon, what is it…” The lupinal paused, unwilling to finish her

Taba smirked as she realized how the celestial would have phrased her question. “Such a dangerous question, though it wasn’t from the so-called Oinoloth that I first heard it.”

The altraloth didn’t elaborate on that revelation, but instead moved forward to answer the unspoken question.

“I will butcher the Ebon and return my race to its proper position under the direction of my master, the first of us, the General of Gehenna.” Obsession and zealotry danced in her eyes.

“And where is the General?” Clueless asked.

The archfiend didn’t immediately respond, only narrowing her eyes and snarling. The glow within her guts flared and bits of acidic, icy rime formed upon her teeth causing the companions to hesitantly step back. Finally she replied, if with obvious distaste for the very question.

“That’s complicated.”

Clueless thought about responding with the first thought that came to his mind, but he preferred to remain alive. The thought burning a hole in his brain was a simple one: ‘You have no idea where the General of Gehenna actually is…’

“So where then does this leave us?” Tristol asked, finally saying something even as his brain stewed over what he’d witnessed.

“I leave you informed of our mutual enemy’s past actions.” Taba sneered, “Perhaps this will motivate you to turn your blades and swords towards him and his allies. You already seem to have been aware of his culling of material from the astral godisles, but the petrified corpse of Karsus was where he started that process.”

“What’s he extracting and what’s he planning to do?” Tristol continued, “We can’t stop what we don’t understand.”

“That… that I don’t know. Not yet.” The altraloth snarled, abhorrent to admit her ignorance on the subject. “He seems loath to speak of the specifics to any outside of his minute circle of conspirators that helped him rise to power.”
“So will you tell us when you find out?” Clueless asked, looking up and staring into the archfiend’s myriad eyes as they blinked in and out of existence across her momentarily draconic flesh.

“That remains to be seen mortals.” Taba shrugged her wings, “Prove yourself useful in disrupting the Ebon’s plans and I might see fit to inform you. But suffice to say, I am not your enemy in this affair.”

“… in this affair…” Fyrehowl rolled her eyes.

“Yes indeed,” Taba smiled wide, “In this affair indeed.”

It seemed clear that as always the altraloth like her kind in general saw little desire to provide information for free. What she’d given them had been purely to advance her own goals and ambitions, and it remained to be seen how that might broaden in the future. But at least it seemed that the Infiltrator of the Planes would not be hunting them down one by one for any perceived slight in trying to kill her in the bowels of Hell.

Taba’s final words were definitive and callous.

“We will meet again mortals at a time and place of my choosing.”

She vanished through a gate, back to another way point and then to another and then another still, all intended to slow and stymie any attempts at divination by her enemies, actual or perceived. Somehow inexplicably she’d left them with more questions bubbling in their minds than before they’d come, but things had yet to reach their most complex and twisted. That would come later that same day.


****​


It took hours to reach a point where Tristol was comfortable enough to risk planeshifting the group back to one of the Gatetowns and then back to Sigil. Far from being a joyous return to their adopted (in Nisha’s case actual) home, their arrival was almost immediately marred by events that did nothing to appreciably approve their collective mood.

Arriving via portal back into the Hive, the air was thick with the smell of an open ooze portal and the even worse scent of raw sewage wafting off of the Ditch at the border with the Lower Ward. Five steps into the City of Doors and the flagstones beneath Florian’s feet erupted in light and a portal opened without warning.

“Oh sh*t!” The cleric shouted, scrambling to find purchase on the surrounding stable cobblestones and within moments Fyrehowl and Toras’s extended arms, drawing herself out of the portal that opened up in a particularly vile layer of the Abyss.

Too close to be a simple coincidence, the ground rumbled with the vibrations of a Cagequake sending the surrounding crowd on the street scurrying for the relative safety of any nearby doorframes.

“AGAIN?! SERIOUSLY?! I’m getting really f*cking tired of this sh*t!” Florian screamed, glancing around and then up to see one of the Marauder’s tieflings watching from the edge of an adjoining rooftop. Immediately her hand was at her holy symbol and the words to a prayer on her lips intending to call down a burning column of holy fire on the fiend’s servitor before Toras grabbed her hand and interrupted the casting.

“What the f*ck Toras?!” Florian spat, struggling to escape the fighter’s grasp.

“That’s not going to help!” Toras shouted back at her

“Yes! Yes it will!” She countered.

As the two of them bickered, smirking down at them from the roof, the Marauder’s groomer-guard whispered the words to a sending spell, reporting on what had happened and listening to his Mistress’s reply. Clearly on the receiving end of a snarl, he winced before snapping his fingers and vanishing in the flicker-flash of a dimension door.

“What the f*cking f*ck?!” Florian snarled, “The mangy b*tch had someone watching us leave and then waiting for us to come back just to try and kill me again?!”

The ground rumbled with a dull, subtle aftershock.

“I’m about two minutes from marching down to the Fortune’s Wheel and having it out with her then and there.” The cleric spat upon the ground, “Seriously! After what she’s done and keeps on doing just to be as f*cking petty as possible, I’m seriously close to not caring if I die in the process. I just want to be able to hurt her and see the look on her face when I break her perfect teeth in and f*ck up her precious, pristine makeup…”

The others remained silent on the matter, trusting the fighter’s amazingly level-headed response. They all knew that taking direct action would be a delight but likely a lethal one. They weren’t going to give the Marauder the satisfaction of falling into her trap.

“Calm down Florian.” Toras inhaled deeply, hating himself as he tried to prevent Florian from doing what she wanted and which frankly he would have deeply, deeply enjoyed doing as well. It wasn’t a survivable option however, not at the moment.

“Oh shut up!” Florian snatched her hand away from the fighter before grimacing and catching her breath, a muscle below her left eye twitching with rage. It took a few minutes but eventually she regained her composure and turned back to Toras. “I’m sorry. I’m not actually going to go and try and kill her. Not now when she’s trying to goad me into it and has everything ready in the event that I take the bait. Don’t worry about me.”

“I worry about you because you’re my friend.”

“I know…” She nodded and put a hand on his shoulder, “It means a lot. It really does. I still want to walk over to the Fortune’s Wheel, but the most expensive drink in the house, drink half of it, throw the other half at her face, and then have it out with her… but I won’t. Not now. Not yet. Thank you.”

“How about we go back to the Portal Jammer and I pour out two of the best in the house?” Toras offered, “Just promise that you won’t throw it at me.”

“That’s probably for the best,” The cleric smiled and nodded, “I’d appreciate that.”

“That sound like a plan to the rest of you?” Toras looked around at the others.

Tristol didn’t say anything, but Nisha answered for them both, and Clueless seemed more than up for a round of drinks after what they’d been through. Fyrehowl though was a different story entirely. The cipher hesitated, standing still in the street as the others pulled away, moving in the direction of the Clerks’ Ward. The lupinal waved them on.

“You all go on back,” She shrugged, her head swimming with thoughts as how things would proceed. “I need some time by myself to collect my thoughts. I might find a park or the top of a building to go meditate.”

None of them stopped her and soon they all parted ways, splitting the party for the first but not the last time that afternoon. Not wanting to remain in the Hive, Fyrehowl walked away, with no specific destination in mind and no particular plans. Ignoring the voices of touts, barkers, merchants and the occasional catcalling fiend, she meandered without destination or route. Content to let her mind be empty and devoid of desire and forethought, letting pure cipher instinct guide her path, she wandered and ultimately more than an hour later she found herself walking through the Lady’s Ward at the junction of several avenues near a park and two cattycorner temples with palatial marble entrances.

Glancing up at a statue of Zeus standing proud at the street corner, holding a burnished bronze bolt of lightning, the lupinal twitched her nose at the sharp, acrid scent of heavy incense or perhaps a burnt offering from within the temple itself.

Abruptly she stopped and turned full circle, glancing about and sniffing at the breeze that carried the scent that was anything but a temple’s incense. Heavy and chemical, laden with burning iron-gall, leather and bleached paper, the smell was that of burning books. Blinking and frowning, the cipher looked for the source, only to find that she’d already begun walking towards it.

One block and she found herself standing at the entrance to an older but still grand-looking building formerly part of Sigil’s civic administration under the Factions. The now repeatedly defaced symbols of the Takers still decorated the doors, and the broken rubble of a statue of the late Rowan Darkwood had been more recently stacked neatly in a pile rather than where it had previously lain scattered about the steps.

From high on the roof, a thin trail of greasy black smoke curled out from below the slate shingles. With the low foot traffic in the district at that time of day and the early stage of the fire, none by the lupinal had noticed it. Worried about the fire spreading to adjacent occupied structures, Fyrehowl darted for the door.

What she found inside was far more than a simple fire.


****​


Back in the Portal Jammer, Toras walked out of the back room where he and the others had been drowning their worries in a first one then ultimately two more bottles of Arcadian mead. The alcohol buzzed through his veins and he chuckled at the effect. Despite his resistance to it all due to his own celestial heritage the particular vintage packed a punch.

“I should have trusted Clueless when he said that he found it really good. He’s immune to the damn stuff. That should have been a warning.”

The fighter passed by a table of gnomes playing cards and then past a bariaur well past half a bottle of wine by himself, a stack of business ledgers and invoices scattered about the table before him. Inwardly Toras chuckled as clearly the day hadn’t been difficult just for himself and his companions.

Grabbing a mug of something much lighter from the bar, Toras turned and walked to one of the windows and gazed out onto the street, watching a cross-section of Sigil’s wildly diverse population expressed in the passing foot traffic. He smiled to himself when he saw any of them smiling, ignorant of the troubles that he and his group had seen and struggled with. Watching their faces gave him something to follow and ignore his own misery. He was deeply worried about Florian and the Marauder’s spat with her. He’d done virtually everything that he could do to help her, up to and including a grotesque bribe. That and the hideous price of having to ask for the Marauder’s forgiveness in person had taken away the danger to himself and Fyrehowl, but Florian was stubborn. There wasn’t any way that she’d ever apologize, and he worried that it would be the death of her.

Sh*t.

He sipped from his mug and closed his eyes, conflicted over what to do next. He couldn’t simply let her suffer under Shemeska’s claws, but the ‘loth was goading her into doing something overt and stupid, even if her ability to trigger portals –whatever the hell allowed for that– might ultimately do the job itself.

Sighing, Toras opened his eyes back up, his mug perched at his lips ready to take another sip. He blinked though as his eyes saw something across the street out of the ordinary.

Smoke.

Beyond the brewery, at least one building back beyond it, thick plumes of greasy black smoke were pouring up into the sky. It wasn’t any sort of cook-fire or industrial smokestack, but a building bursting into flames. Without thinking Toras was out the door in moments, his mug still in his hand and hastily quaffed and hurled to the street by the time he turned the corner and stood outside the building, there to help in any way that he could.

A shuttered and unoccupied warehouse, the doors were chained and padlocked, marked with faded ‘No Trespassing – This Means You! Stupid Berks!’ signs either painted on the walls or on peeling, rain-stained papers tacked to the doors with rusted nails. The building hadn’t been occupied since Toras and the others had opened up the Portal Jammer, and he wasn’t even sure who the proper owner was. Had it belonged to the Marauder as it seemed half the block did, part of him was sorely tempted to let it burn to ashes, but another part of him hoped that if he did her a favor she might return it.

Running into a burning building wasn’t an advisable action, but that of course was what Toras of Andros did. Seeing that the source of the flames was on the upper floor, he gripped the drainpipe and hastily clambered up to the third story, there finding a single window ajar and easily hurled open.

Smoke poured out of the opened window, stinging Toras’s eyes and coughing him to hack and cough as he climbed inside, immediately ducking down to stick to cleaner air closer to the floor. Upon landing inside, it suddenly became immediately clear that he’d stumbled into something far more than an abandoned and burning warehouse.

“What the hell?!” Toras whispered to himself as he looked about. Far from the ramshackle exterior, except for where smoke had stained the ceiling and walls, the building was in pristine condition.

Symbols of the Fraternity of Order stood above ever door that lined the hallway, and several trolleys laden with books, ink, and loose sheets of paper and vellum lay at even intervals. One glance into the first open doorway revealed rows of desks and stacks of books and ledgers arranged in chronological order. Far from a warehouse, the building was some manner of private scriptorium, the stacks of books and records clearly in the process of being copied and those copies stored in Sigil, offsite from where they’d originally been made, presumably by the Fraternity of Order.

Staring at the books and scribes’ cubbies, Toras took a moment to see the first body.

“What the f*ck is going on here?” He blurted out, coughing at the sudden inhalation of smoke.

Looking down at the floor, three scribes lay on the ground, their bodies covered in blood that had yet to cool and clot. Each of their throats had been unceremoniously cut, their lung’s punctured to prevent their screams, and their legs hamstrung to prevent them from doing more than crawling with their arms if they weren’t already dead. It was all neat and brutally, terribly efficient.

Checking the bodies as swift as he could, Toras moved to the next room only to find the same
Someone had torn through every stack of records, looking for something, the stacks turned over and tossed aside. This wasn’t vandalism or arson; this was mass murder to cover a theft.

Another room and it was the same, dozens of bodies in all strewn about, and then as he moved towards the next room at the end of the hallway, a man stumbled into the hallway, stabbed several times and bleeding heavily. Wearing a symbol of the exiled Faction that operated the building in secret, he gasped and coughed blood, each breath causing a sharp whistle from a punctured lung.

“What happened here?!” Toras shouted, grabbing the man and whispering a prayer to his god before channeling the magic of his celestial blood to heal the man’s wounds. “Is there anyone else still alive?!”

“Get out!” The man babbled, “We have to get out… she’ll kill us all…”

“Who?!” Toras demanded, “Who did this?”

Toras never heard the man’s answer, only the motion of his mouth opening to scream and his eyes wide with utter, stark fear. The fighter had never seen a man seem that afraid, and in the next moment as the scribe turned to run, Toras would belatedly understand just what could evoke that level of mindless horror as a blade sunk into his back and erupted from the center of his chest, expertly piercing his heart.

Screaming and coughing blood, falling to his knees as his vision grew dark, he saw the green eruption of a disintegration spell lance down the hall and incinerate the scribe as he struggled to open a window and escape. There would be no escape.

Toras gasped for breath, struggling to call forth healing for himself as he felt the blade gripped and slid free, only to then take its place at his throat, slicing deep and spilling his lifeblood out upon the floor in a crimson fountain. As his vision faded to black his killer leaned in close, putting her lips to his ear and whispering a haunting message.

“Justice cannot die.”

With that message in his ears, Toras’s vision faded to black, but not before he looked up to see the merciless sneer playing upon the soot-smeared face of Alisohn Nilesia, Factol of the Mercykillers. The pain was blinding, but what horrified him more than the realization that he was dying was the fact the last time he'd seen her, he'd watched her die, publicly flayed alive by the Lady's shadow...


****​
 
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Clueless

Webmonkey
Clueless - rogue/wizard/arcane trickster/unique PrC eventually
Tristol - wizard/archmage
Nisha - rogue/wizard/XaOsiTeCT PrC
Fyrehowl - barbarian/monk/cipher PrC (we justified the combination of monk and barbarian through the whole monastic cipher theme and their focus on intuitive action)
Toras - fighter/the broken as all heck PrC that gave mettle (basically evasion for Fort saves)
Florian - cleric
Kiro - rogue
Skalliska - rogue/wizard/gatecrasher
Alex - wizard/alienist
Future PC (Alex/Skalliska's player) - cleric

And just because:
Shemeska - sorcerer (plus those racial arcanaloth caster levels). I want to say that I ended up putting her in as an effectively 21st level caster before all was said and done, but she wasn't the highest level arcane caster in (or under) Sigil.

*coughs* Bladesinger. No rogue or arcane trickster. ;P
 

Tsuga C

Adventurer
Odd that he'd forget. If memory serves, this story hour has previously referred to your PC as a Bladesinger. Regardless, this was another satisfying update.
 


Shemeska

Adventurer
Update please :)

I'll try to have one by early next week. I'm back in school full time (going for a PharmD) and I've got an exam on Friday and another on Monday so rather preoccupied.

I will say however that the next few updates will be particularly plot heavy, and they'll also show that there are no Mary Sues immune to harm, even among NPCs.
 

Shemeska

Adventurer
****​

The soft and intimately regular hum of distant, tectonic clockwork ran through the fingertips of Factol Nacius Garabutos of the Fraternity of Order as she placed a book back in its proper, organized location and then braced herself on the wall as she descended a ladder and back to her desk. The tome was a compilation of recent events related to the reorganization and some would say healing process of the modrons after their corruption following the temporary death of Primus and usurpation of the modron energy pool in Regulus.

The wizard and Factol sat down at her desk and smiled, re-reading the book’s second chapter in her mind by virtue of her own eidetic memory. She wasn’t in her judgment as adept as her predecessor Hashkar, but she’d only held her position for a few years following his assassination, and he’d had more than a century under his belt by that point, though age didn’t precisely matter to a petitioner, and she was only mortal.

Human and in her seventh decade of life, her olive-toned brow creased, deep in thought even as a dozen Ioun stones drifted in precise orbit about her head. Eschewing the finery of most Factols and perhaps more so most wizards of her profound ability, her robes were a simple pale white and gold, embroidered with tiny bits of clockwork about the cuffs and collar. Intelligence sparkled in her pale, steel-grey eyes and she smiled.

“You did a perfect job Nathan.” Nacius bobbed her head, nodding to herself with satisfaction as she brushed a lock of gray hair from her face, “Your mother would be proud, whatever ultimately happened to her.”

The book she presently mused over was penned by her secretary and Factor, Nathan the Inescapable, himself the son of Factol Hashkar’s predecessor Lariset. While the Fraternity had no manner of inherited positions and titles, the former Factol’s scion had risen up the ranks on his own work and dedication, aided in no small part by his mastery and utilization of originally githyanki magic to retard the retroactive aging process otherwise experienced upon leaving the Astral plane, which is where he’d spent most of the past century on Faction business in one of their secret archives. For having outlasted Hashkar and honestly having set himself up as Nacius’s likely successor, he barely looked over the age of 40. His likely spot was also aided by the deep and long-standing animosity between Nacius and her own rival for the position of Factol after Hashkar’s death, Jamis. She’d vaulted past her rival once and it amused her to potentially do so a second time by proxy whenever she herself passed away.

Her mind absently rereading and penning internal comments to discuss with the man in a week’s time for their next scheduled meeting, the Factol never noticed the door to her office open and close with barely a whisper of sound to grace the air and then her ears. Thus distracted, it took her a moment to react, though she didn’t yet look up.

“Was there something else Nathan?” She asked, “Your summary of the ordered disorder among the Quartons was nearly poetic in the use of equations alongside the prose. I..”
“I am here to retrieve something that does belong to you.” The voice was cold and devoid of mercy, tinged with simmering anger and subtle madness. The voice was not that of Factol Garabutos’s secretary.

The wizard looked up, a spell pulled to mind to trigger a nested series of lesser, contingent spells and in the back of her consciousness the notion to trigger one of the Universal Loopholes she held in stock, should they be required to deal with her intruder. Neither would be necessary nor viable however, and with a frown she ceased the attempt as her Ioun stones clattered to the ground, a consequence of the antimagic field conjured by the woman standing before her.

“Justice does not follow your petty Laws and presumptions of Order.” The intruder sneered, her eyes bloodshot and red, obvious even despite the ruddy fiendish glow of each red and lambent iris.

“This runs contrary to dozens of axioms and long-proven laws.” Factol Garabutos narrowed her eyes and spoke with a curt matter-of-factness, “Please be gone from my office.”

“I am Justice,” The Intruder stepped forward and placed her hands on the desk, her claws marked by gray dust and ashes, “And Justice transcends your petty Rules.”

“No, you are dead.” The Factol frowned. “Your death was witnessed by over two hundred individuals and one distant branch of a limited hivemind, of whom one hundred and twelve of the former and the full consciousness of the latter were interviewed in the following week and their impressions recorded and archived in triplicate. I have a copy of the record here in my office given the profound nature of your actions and the manner of your passing following your reappearance after being presumed dead since the end of the Faction War.”

“And yet here I am Factol Garabutos.” The intruder chuckled, a manic edge to the sound. “Do I appear dead to you?”

“You were flayed alive and reduced to a bloody, homogenous pulp by Her Serenity, The Lady of Pain.” The Guvners’ Factol resolutely stated. “So yes, you are quite profoundly dead. Thus please leave my office.”

Both Factol and former Factol stared at one another, human and tiefling, peers in a manner of speaking taking the other’s measure even if both of them knew what the end would bring.

“The Bladed Lady’s crimes are too great and so yet here I stand, alive and working towards the greatest act of Justice that can and will be.” The tiefling smiled, exposing a row of pointed teeth as she drew a vorpal blade, the same as she’d carried in Sigil upon the day of her recorded public death. “Death is no barrier towards my work, and my work requires the key to Hashkar’s private vault. You will provide me that key and I will provide you the justice of a swift and painless death.”

“And if I refuse?”

“Then I will personally slaughter every member of the Fortress of Disciplined Enlightenment before I tear the structure apart down to the last golden brick to find what I came here to recover. It does not belong to you, and if need be I will execute your faction members for their complicity in your crimes and the crimes of this present reality.” The tip of the sword touched the Factol’s desk and began to neatly bleed through the stone like a knife to flesh. “But it does not have to come to that.”

“However you are here…” Nacius sighed as she retrieved a single golden key stamped not with Hashkar’s personal sigil, but with Lariset’s, “Whatever madness this entails, this is not Justice.”

“Yes, yes it is,” The former Mercykiller Factol smiled, “However indirectly it might be. Your death is not Justice in and of itself, but a stepping stone towards the greatest Justice of all, the grandest axiom that there is and could be.”

Factol Garabutos went ashen as she came to a sudden, profound, and horrific realization as she stared up into the eyes of Alisohn Nilesia.

The mad tiefling smiled and as she had once before in Sigil to a dabus, with a single measured strike she neatly beheaded the Guvner’s Factol. The body slumped and blood sprayed across the room in patterns that could of course be ordered and predicted if the initial angle of the body, blood pressure, stroke volume, ambient temperature, and other variables were accounted for. Surely the Factol’s servants would make such calculations when they cleaned up the mess hours later.

Unlike when she’d slain a dabus in Sigil, this time Nilesia knelt down and drew out a single, darkly glittering black sapphire. Although the Fraternity of Order made it strictly against their own internal laws for any member above of Factotum and above to retain their position after returning from the dead, there could be no witness to this death, nor any witness to what she would be leaving with once she accessed and plundered Hashkar’s vault and what he’d inherited from his predecessor.

“You will have what you wish my Master.” Alisohn Nilesia whispered to herself, somewhere between a desperate plea, a promise, and a prayer.


****​
 

Voidrunner's Codex

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