The Rape of Morne [Final Update]

So: I've decided to start a new thread, as the old one is getting a bit cumbersome.

It goes without saying that a huge amount has passed since I last posted, so there is a lot to catch up with. Please note that posts will probably be more infrequent than previously, so as to avoid burnout in actually recounting stuff. Its been nice to actually have time to plan, and play.

As I mentioned previously, there is a kind of natural lacuna in the story after those events at Khu involving Feezuu, Ainhorr and the Celestial descent. If you can suspend your disbelief, and attribute events that happened after that to the third book - this one - then I think that it flows together more naturally.

Of course, I didn't know what to call it then, because the events which characterize it hadn't occurred. They have now - at least to a point.

Lots of bad things happen, and loyalties are shaken and upset. The first post, relatively light in content, is not at all typical of the sessions that we have since played.

And the point is made that whatever story arcs I devise, my players (and occasionally die rolls) tend to force things into better ones.


**


Mostin Gets Philosophical, and Ortwin Goes a-Courtin'


It was the morning after Mostin’s party, and the Alienist joined Eadric and Nwm in the hall at Kyrtill’s Burgh. He pointedly avoided the invisible Devas, who looked even more stern and judgmental than usual.

"Before you start," the Alienist held his palms up towards Eadric, "I had no idea that Shomei would be bringing an infernal guest. I would have discouraged her from attending if I had."

"Who was it?" Eadric asked. "And what ‘legitimate business’ was he referring to?"

"Duke Titivilus, and temptation," Mostin replied. "Specifically, of me."

"And you accepted?" Eadric inquired. "If so, I think our friendship is at an end, Mostin."

"I did not." the Alienist snapped. "Although, I must admit, I was tempted. But I know from experience that such arrangements tend to come at a higher price than is immediately apparent."

"What did he offer?" Nwm inquired. "Something suitably seductive, I hope?"

"Yes," said Mostin, cryptically.

"And Shomei?" Eadric asked. "What was her part in this? I assume that your association with her is at an end?"

"Certainly not," Mostin replied indignantly. "Shomei is a good friend, and by hearing Titivilus out, I may have helped her extricate herself from a tight spot."

Eadric looked confused.

"She has almost discharged her compact with him, Eadric. He has furnished her with certain…perquisites…and she has been instrumental in facilitating his sojourns on the Prime. By agreeing to act as mediator between Titivilus and myself – a facilitator in the Temptation process, if you will – Shomei is close to ending their misalliance."

The Paladin was aghast. "And you don’t resent her for that? I am constantly confused by your motives, Mostin."

"Initially, I was offended," Mostin confessed, "but Shomei explained her circumstances after Titivilus departed. She feels that it is hazardous to be involved with two Devils at once."

"Two?"

"Her loyalties are currently split between Belial and Dispater. She has overreached herself. She is attempting to sever her connection with Dis and Titivilus as diplomatically as possible."

Eadric groaned. "This woman sounds like a barrel of trouble, Mostin. She will drag you on the path to perdition if you are not cautious."

"No," the Alienist said. "She will not. You do not understand her. I’m sorry to pull rank on you Eadric, but there are some things that you will simply never comprehend, because your faith dictates that reality is a certain way, and no other. Her reality is not yours. Her guidelines are not yours. Nonetheless, she is highly principled. A left-hand path adept, if you will. Do not make the mistake of judging her by your morality."

"I cannot understand this," Eadric said.

"I know," Mostin smiled sympathetically. "For what it’s worth, I think that compacting with Devils is unwise, but for different reasons than you. Shomei regards them as tools – I would argue that there are more efficient and less hazardous ones."

"Tools for what? Power? Dominion?"

"Only in the hands of the weak," Mostin replied. "That’s not to say that I haven’t had my fair share of power fantasies, because I have. But they are aberrant. Incomplete. It is an extension of the same ethos which informs the Great Injunction: the quest for power is ultimately futile, and is a misapplication of personal resources and energy."

"Knowledge, then?" The Paladin asked.

"Partly. But beyond gnosis, there are states so profound that there are no words to describe them. Why do gods, devils, demons - or whatever -meddle in human affairs?"

"I’m sure you’re going to tell me," Eadric said drily.

"They are afraid of us. They seek to limit and control us, Eadric. We threaten them, because we possess something which they do not: infinite potential."

"To become like them?"

Mostin shook his head. "To utterly transcend them."

"And magic is your vehicle in this process?"

"Magick. Yes."

"And what is this ‘final state’ which you aspire towards, Mostin? What is ‘Metagnosis?’" Eadric was intrigued. He had never heard Mostin speak as openly and as coherently about his own philosophy before.

"You misunderstand," Mostin replied. "There is no ‘final state.’ There is only becoming. Infinite becoming."

"That is a somehow disquieting prospect," Eadric said.

"Yes," Mostin concurred. "It should be."

"I’m just glad that I don’t agree with a word that you’ve just said," Eadric smiled.

Mostin shrugged.

"But what did the Devil offer?" Nwm asked. "I am curious."

"A Demiplane called ‘Cha’at.’ Not very large – around sixty miles across, or a hundred thousand cubic miles. But very nice: perfect elemental balance, one access point only, benign flora and fauna. It is comprised of an island surrounded by warm, shallow seas. There are olive groves, wild vines and sandstone hills – at present. All morphics are, in fact, alterable. And its temporal morphic is alterable, also."

"Immortality?" Nwm was incredulous. "Frankly, I’m surprised you didn’t take it. I’d have been sorely tempted."

"And his price?" Eadric asked.

"My loyalty. I am even more suspicious of open-ended deals with Devils than I am of those which contain ten pages of impenetrable small-print."

"You spoke of Shomei’s involvement with him being ‘almost at an end.’ What else is there to come?"

"She must facilitate a final translation for him," Mostin explained. "He will attempt another Temptation."

"Of you?" Nwm asked.

"No," Mostin replied. "The rules of the Accord are very strict. He may only attempt to seduce a single mortal once."

"‘Accord?’" Eadric asked. "That is the second time I have heard that word in the past day. What Accord?"

Mostin screwed up his face. "Do you not know? Has Zhuel not told you?"

"Zhuel is not empowered to tell him," Nehael said, entering the chamber unexpectedly, "and despite his holiness has an incomplete understanding of the truth. Temptation is the lawfully deputed province of Devils, Eadric. It is an enterprise blessed by Oronthon himself."

"That is rather a Heretical viewpoint," the Paladin said, "although not entirely a surprise to me, given the number of other revelations that I have had to accept. I need ‘official’ verification, of course."

Nehael raised an eyebrow. She had expected more resistance to the idea. His passivity to Oronthon’s Will seemed complete. She would inform Rintrah.

"It goes beyond a tacit understanding, Eadric. There are formal rules, which Devils never break – although they constantly attempt to reinterpret them. They play by the book. Demons are less observant of the rules, and while the Bright God tolerates their machinations, he does not sanction them. The difference is vitally important." She smiled.

Eadric grimaced. "I assume that this Duke’s final Temptation will be directed towards me?"

"That would be my guess, also," Mostin nodded.

"When should I expect it?" The Paladin asked.

"When it is hardest to decline," Nehael replied.


**


Ortwin reclined against the bole of a tree in the afternoon sun after a particularly passionate bout of cavorting with Hlioth, the Green Witch. She had organized the weather to their mutual satisfaction, replacing dreary grey clouds with a warm, balmy sunshine. Despite his physical satiation, Ortwin was frustrated.

"I’m bored," the Bard said. "With life," he added quickly afterwards, so as to not offend her. "Ennui. Dissatisfaction. That kind of thing. Little seems to grab my attention these days."

"Of course you’re bored," she said unhelpfully. "You’re a Fey. Ennui and melancholy are the perpetual bane of Feys."

"I mean I was bored before," he said. "I have no sense of purpose or direction. No inspiration. No goals to pursue. No great plan towards which I work. I feel listless."

"You are a selfish cynic. What do you expect?"

"Hmph," Ortwin sighed. She was being less than sympathetic. "You seem content enough to have no ambition. What’s your secret?"

"Simple," Hlioth replied. "I just have no ambition. It’s not something that I cultivate, or try to maintain. It’s just the way I am. There is nothing missing from me."

"And there is from me?" Ortwin asked, somewhat offended.

"Your words, not mine," she countered. "Is there no cause to which you can attach yourself? No movement for you to champion? Have you considered religion?"

"Certainly not," the Bard replied.

"Politics? The military?"

"Gods, no. The thought is abhorrent."

"Then I am afraid that your existence is doomed to be shallow and unfulfilled, unless you can come to realize that ambition itself is futile. If you can accept this, then you will begin to appreciate a simple, uncomplicated life."

"You sound disturbingly like Nwm," Ortwin said.

"Nwm is wise," Hlioth laughed easily.

"He regards you as – eccentric," Ortwin replied. "Neither a witch nor a druidess."

She shrugged. "I have no great desire to fit in."

"How old are you, Hlioth?" Ortwin asked.

"Why? How old are you?" She replied.

"Forty-four," he replied, "or at least I was forty-four before my, uh…"

"Transmigration?" She suggested.

"Yes, quite," said the Bard.

"Then I am older than you," Hlioth said vaguely.

"There is a rumour that you are immortal," Ortwin said. "Is it true?"

"How should I know? I’m not dead yet. You, however should certainly have a long life – providing that you are careful, of course."

"What do you mean?" The Bard asked suspiciously.

"Put it this way, dear: have you ever heard of a Fey dying of old age?"

"No, I suppose not," he conceded. "Then what kills them?"

"Melancholy. Ennui. The lack of will to go on." And Hlioth looked profoundly sad.

"Great," Ortwin said sarcastically. "Thanks for the optimistic words."

"Oh, snap out of it Ortwin! Stop being so self-indulgent. You have a perspective that no other Fey I know has – in that you are not entirely a Fey at all. Play to your strengths. Be less self-centered." She sighed. "What excites you most?"

"Women. Sword-play. Witty banter. That’s the problem. I’m eminently shallow."

"Are you satisfied with your fencing style?" Hlioth asked.

"I had been, until my encounter with Iua," Ortwin replied. "She is a genius. I am merely exceptional."

"But you are less…" Hlioth considered…"overspecialized. Do you resent the fact that she is a woman?"

"No," the Bard replied honestly. "I resent her because she is far better than me at something which I have always felt I am very good at."

"Do you find her attractive?" Hlioth asked unexpectedly.

Ortwin peered quizzically at her. What was she up to? "I am suspicious of your motivation in asking that question," he said.

"That is because you don’t understand me, Ortwin of Jiuhu. I do not care for rivalry. I am Hlioth – and I am utterly free."

"In that case, yes. I find her attractive."

"Have you made advances towards her?" The Green Witch probed.

"Not exactly," Ortwin said. "I have had lustful thoughts, and, unfortunately, she perceived them. Look, Hlioth, I don’t know where this line of inquiry is going. Would you please enlighten me?"

"Think about it Ortwin: she is your ideal match. She is a beautiful woman. She is bold, restless, and confident. She is your equal, if not your superior, in wit and badinage. She is a performer whose abilities compare favourably to your own. She is also perhaps one of the greatest living practitioners of the Thalassine rapier style and, like you, needs a focus. Unlike you, however, she is not cynical and has not forgotten her idealism. Her mother is an Evoker of singular power, her father is a Djinn prince…"

"A prince?" Ortwin asked. "Since when?"

"Several hundred years at least, I’d guess," Hlioth said drily. "Did you never think to inquire about Ulao?"

"She is reluctant to discuss her parentage. I didn’t want to press her. Is he rich?"

"Fabulously, I’d imagine," Hlioth sighed, "if such things are important to you."

"Money is never a bad thing," the Bard remarked.

"Hmm," Hlioth grunted. "The opposite is true in my experience. Has she evinced any romantic interest?"

"Not in me," Ortwin said, smiling. "Which is, in my humble view, a sign of madness or aberration in itself."

"An interest in anyone else?"

"Not to my knowledge," Ortwin said. "Perhaps she is very discreet."

"Or perhaps she is waiting for you to show a sign of your interest. Why else would she be still here? Why do you think that she crossed swords with you, if it were not to test your suitability as a potential mate?"

"Do you have to make it sound quite so functional? I have delicate sensibilities, and am easily upset. In any case, she seemed quite comfortable humiliating me in our duel – I suspect that that was her main motivation."

"Goddess, you are a cynic, Ortwin!" Hlioth said. "Maybe she needed to assert herself and her independence. It must have been difficult for her to confront you. She may be somewhat in awe of you. I think that you underestimate your reputation."

"I never underestimate my reputation." Ortwin grinned. "But the point is well-made. However, my hirsuteness and hooves may be an obstacle to any romantic entanglement now. Besides, she can be a spoiled brat. I think she has been indulged too much, and is too used to getting her own way."

Hlioth shrugged. "Think on it. In any case, I am returning to Nizkur later today, but fear not! We still have time for dalliance. I’ve ordered a lightning storm. I thought it might be stimulating."

Ortwin gazed upwards. The clear blue sky had vanished during their conversation, to be replaced again with an impenetrable grey veil. A huge thunderhead was forming above them.


**


Ortwin never thought about anything for too long.

"I want a rematch," the Bard said to Iua. She was performing improbable acts of balance, in the meadow next to Mostin’s manse.

Nwm, standing nearby with Eadric, grimaced. He knew what was coming next.

"If he is willing," the Bard continued, "Nwm will…"

"Yes, yes," the Druid said. "Patch up the holes. I know. You must be insane, Ortwin."

"Not entirely. There are new rules. No magic is to be employed. No spells, potions, buffs. No thought-reading devices. No magic armour or protection devices. And no magic weapons. A test of skill, pure and simple. Scimitar against rapier. Conventional armour is permissible to both parties, of course. Do you accept?"

"I find armour rather cumbersome," Iua replied. "Had you intended to wear field plate as an added precaution?"

Eadric guffawed.

Ortwin looked somewhat affronted. "I think a leather vest and buckler will suffice. Well? I hope you aren’t entirely dependent upon your Vampiric rapier, Iua. Because we both know, nobody is really that fast, are they?"

She bit her lip. "No," she confessed, "but you will still lose. Allow me an hour to prepare. I need to locate a suitable weapon."

"As do I," Ortwin said. "And there aren’t many Elves in these parts.*"

"What’s this about, Ortwin?" Nwm asked the Bard, after she had left to enter the house. "You know that she is better than you."

"Yes," Ortwin admitted. "But I need to know how much better she really is. How old would you say Iua is, Nwm?"

The Druid shrugged. "Seventeen? Eighteen? Not more than twenty, in any case."

"What do you think of her?"

"She is remarkable, in every regard," Nwm replied. "Why?"

"I am considering courting her," Ortwin said.

"Courting?" Eadric asked, astounded. "That term seems somehow incongruous when it comes from your lips, Ortwin."

"Chivalry is a farce which any idiot can hide behind," the Bard said acidly, "but that is not what I am referring to. I simply intend to be thoughtful and reserved."

Eadric scratched his head. The whole world had suddenly gone mad. "Is this some springtime thing, Ortwin? Do Satyrs suffer from an imbalance in the humours when the blossom is on the trees?"

Nwm laughed heartily at the Bard, who looked mildly offended. "Besides," the Druid said, recovering, "I thought you had some arrangement with Hlioth."

Ortwin scowled.

"Hey," Nwm said defensively, "If you mess with the weather on my turf, don’t expect it to go unnoticed. I check that kind of thing out."

"You spied on us?"

"No, indeed. I was merely aware of your presence." The Druid tapped his torc.

"Actually, it was Hlioth who suggested that I could do worse than pursue Iua."

"Hlioth is a crazy old witch," Nwm said. "Be careful of her."

"She is sensitive and caring, although a little strange, I’ll admit," Ortwin said.

"In that she suggested that the best way to pursue Iua would be to try and lop her head off in a duel?" Eadric asked ironically.

"No. That was my idea, actually." Ortwin replied.

"Ahh," Eadric nodded knowingly.

"Don’t be so sarcastic, Ed. It doesn’t become you. This is about the independence of the spirit – something which I really don’t expect you to understand."

"Peace," Nwm said quickly, holding up his hand. "Time is moving on, and we have to find Ortwin a weapon. Eadric, do you have a scimitar in the armory at the Burgh?"

"Several. Tatterbrand knows where to look."

"And get me a buckler and a leather jerkin," Ortwin said.

Nwm nodded, stepped into a tree, and vanished.


**


Tatterbrand rode hard from Kyrtill’s Burgh to bring the scimitar to Ortwin, despite the fact that Nwm had offered to return with it. The squire was traditional that way.

"Anyone care to wager?" Mostin asked. "My money is on Iua."

Eadric coughed, and Nwm looked at the ground.

"Thanks for the support," Ortwin sniped.

Iua appeared bearing a small buckler and a rapier of fine quality, forged from good Thalassine steel.

"Where did you get that?" The Bard asked disconsolately.

"Er, it’s mine," Mostin said apologetically. "I lent it to her. Don’t worry – it isn’t dweomered."

"Hmph," Ortwin grunted. "Shall we start at, say, twenty feet apart?"

Iua looked pointedly at Ortwin’s hooves. "If you are trying to maximize your tactical advantage, you have just miscalculated," she said sarcastically. "Perhaps you would like to reconsider?"

"Twenty feet," Ortwin said through gritted teeth. Gods, she could be annoying. He drew the scimitar, and briefly inspected it. Good choice, Tatterbrand, he thought. It was of superior workmanship and, like other weapons kept in Eadric’s armoury, well-honed and well-oiled.

Iua saluted him in a most condescending manner.

"I will give the sign for the fight to commence," Mostin announced grandly. "You will not fail to recognize it. If anyone would care to wager, now is your last chance."

"Oh very well," Nwm said. "Fifty crowns says that Ortwin lasts at least twenty-five seconds."

"Done!" Mostin said, delighted.

Ortwin squinted at the Druid, who looked back apologetically. Mostin gestured briefly and an enormous boom echoed across the meadow, causing the ground to tremble and chest cavities to vibrate.

Iua moved like a liquid. In a heartbeat, she dashed forwards two paces, launched herself into the air, curled into a ball, span the remaining distance and landed squarely in front of the Bard.

His mouth opened in disbelief as her rapier instantly found a gap in the leather vest that he wore, and cold steel bit into him. As he reeled, Ortwin expected her momentum to carry her onwards, but somehow she had arrested it. Her weapon was everywhere. Again.

"Remarkable," Mostin said in wonder. "And to consider that she is unaugmented. Do you think she might be the best living practitioner?"

"It’s hard to say," Tatterbrand replied. "The rapier is not my forté, and there are many different styles. Although for sheer speed, I’ve yet to see her match. But rapier and buckler is actually considered a rather old-fashioned technique these days in Fumaril."

Mostin looked quizzical.

"You know. Main gauche, rapier and cloak, rapier and scabbard. It’s all the rage."

"Oh," Mostin said.

"Look at Ortwin, though," Tatterbrand pointed. "He’s actually very good."

The Bard had adopted a considered pose, with a thoughtful expression upon his face. He wondered whether he could wear Iua down: in terms of physical stamina, and the sheer ability to withstand the blows, he suspected that he outmatched her. He was also beginning to realize that having a hairy hide had certain benefits: her last blow, although penetrating both his guard and his armour, had failed to break his skin.

Abruptly, his scimitar lashed out furiously, causing the girl to move to block it. She misread it, the Bard dove and twisted, and the blade bit into the girl’s arm in a single, well-placed strike. He grinned.

"It’s also worth considering that Ortwin is a far better bullsh*tter than she is," Tatterbrand remarked. "She will now adopt a different tactic. Observe."

Iua assumed the impenetrable screening position which had vexed Ortwin during their first exchange, causing the Bard to grimace in recognition. He held his scimitar tightly as he anticipated her next maneuver.

Tap-oh no you don’t-tap-no-tap-no-tap-no. Hah! Ortwin was amazed to see that he still held onto his weapon. Iua pouted and then looked more determined.

Deciding that a different strategy might be in order, and aware that her screen was near invulnerable to attack, Ortwin suddenly turned, erupted into a burst of speed, and galloped away from Iua, his hooves taking him out to a distance of eighty feet. He threw down his buckler and gripped his scimitar in both hands.

As Ortwin turned, his weapon held in front of him, the pose made Mostin feel distinctly uncomfortable, reminding him of a certain Duke of Hell.**

"Sound tactics, Ortwin," Nwm called from the sidelines. "Hang onto your sword."

"Yes, run away Ortwin," Iua goaded him as she walked calmly towards him. "Trot off into the woods." She smiled wickedly, and then gestured provocatively for him to charge her.

Ortwin charged, covering over sixty feet of open ground with remarkable speed, his scimitar flailing wildly above his head. He thundered into Iua but despite his blow, she held her ground.

Tap-not this time, I’ve got two hands on it – tap – slide – twist – flick. Dammit. The scimitar dropped to the ground, and Iua stabbed him twice in the thigh for good measure. Ortwin winced.

"Alright, that’s it," he snarled. "I’ve had enough of this."

Iua expected a headbutt, and was surprised to find Ortwin groping at her rapier. She stabbed him in the arm.

"Ow!" He said as his hands closed around the hilt of her sword.

"That’s cheap," Mostin said to Eadric.

"But effective," Eadric observed, as Ortwin wrested the slender blade from her grasp and poked at her with it.

"Do you give up?" Ortwin asked, gripping the rapier in both hands.

"Are you nuts?" Iua replied. "I could beat you blindfolded. Besides, look at you."

Ortwin noticed that he was bleeding from half a dozen different wounds. He suddenly felt very weak.

Iua crouched, drew a slender poignard, and grinned. "You were better off with your scimitar," she said. "I’ll tell you what, I’ll let you retrieve it, and I’ll use this. Won’t make a scrap of difference to the final outcome, but you might save some face."

"Don’t be so damned patronizing," Ortwin complained. "A little modesty would sit well on you."

Iua goggled at the irony of the comment. "Coming from anyone but you, Ortwin, I might heed that remark."

The Bard gave his best charming smile. "I concede the bout. Again. Mostin, pay up. Eadric, thank-you for the loan of the sword. Is there any firewine nearby?"

Iua walked up to the Bard. "What, exactly, is this about Ortwin?"

"I thought I might court you, with your consent."

"You have an odd way of suggesting it," she countered.

"I recognize that your fragile ego needs to be nurtured and supported," the Bard remarked drily.

"I have no objection," she said in a matter-of-fact way. "But of course, you will need my father’s permission. He is rather traditional in that regard. Besides, what happened to the Green Witch?"

Ortwin groaned.



Later that same evening, when everyone else had retired, Eadric sat by the fire with his hounds in the hall at Kyrtill’s Burgh.

When Rintrah appeared, and told him what had to be done, his stomach sank.

"Do you doubt?" The Planetar asked him.

"Yes," Eadric replied. "My ability, not Oronthon’s judgement."

"That is acceptable," Rintrah replied.

"And I fear the machinations of fiends," the Paladin said.

The Celestial laughed openly and warmly. "I’m afraid that will never change," he smiled.


**


It was a wet, grey morning in late spring when Eadric ordered that the horns be sounded, and he rode with his captains and paladins across the bridge at Hartha Keep to parley with Brey. He did not bear the message that he had originally intended.

He took thirty men with him, including Nwm, Tramst, the Penitents who had sworn loyalty to him in the aftermath of the battle at Deorham, Thanes Streek and Togull, and the Uediian Ryth of Har Kumil. Jorde, formally of the Temple, bore Eadric’s banner – a three headed silver phoenix on an azure field.*** Tatterbrand rode close behind the Paladin.

The bridge – Aaki’s Bridge, as it was named – was ancient. A vestige of Old Borchia, the state which predated Wyre, it was a weathered, moss-covered affair which had improbably stood the test of both time and the numerous inundations of the river. A long causeway led up to it from both the eastern and western sides, elevating the road above an uninviting bog, before the track narrowed and traversed the dilapidated cantilevers of the span itself.

At exactly the midpoint, alerted by the horns which had rung from Hartha Keep, a contingent of Templars waited patiently for Eadric to arrive with his knights. The river, still swollen by the thaw and the spring rains, coursed rapidly below, only a few feet beneath the peak of its arches. It carried driftwood with it, and foamed and gurgled around the stone pilons.
Eadric evinced some surprise at the group waiting for him, the more so when they sounded their horns indicating that they were an embassy. He had expected a more belligerent reception, and wondered whether new orders had issued from Morne regarding the means by which Brey should deal with him. As they closed, Nwm spoke with him.

"Brey is there. Should I leave? I think he holds little love for me."

"He probably wonders why he is still alive," Eadric said ironically. "Please refrain from killing everybody except him – this is an embassy, after all."

"You don’t understand why I did what I did, do you Ed?" Nwm asked.

"I am beginning to," the Paladin replied unexpectedly. "I understand that you did what you thought was necessary."

"But was it?"

"It is easy to make judgements with hindsight," Eadric replied. "Would you do it again, if events repeated themselves?"

"That question is meaningless," Nwm answered.

"Precisely," the Paladin agreed.

"I could win this war alone," Nwm pointed out. "Break the Temple. Obliterate it. I have only recently come to understand that."

"And gain what?"

"Nothing that would endure after me," Nwm said sadly. "How are you going to deal with this idiot, anyway?"

"Not how he - or even you - expects," Eadric replied.


**


"That’s quite far enough, Heretic," Brey shouted at a distance of around thirty yards. "You can bring Tahl the Corrupted with you, but the other pagans and blasphemers can stay where they are."

Several of the Penitents were almost overcome with zeal, and prepared to spur their destriers into a charge. Eadric restrained them, before riding on alone with Tahl.

Nwm carefully considered the sky, and felt reassured that he had already primed it, just in case he needed to blast anyone.

"Greetings, Lord Brey," Eadric said politely, and without rancour. "I trust you are well?"

"What is the purpose of this parley?" The Templar asked haughtily.

"I’ve come to see if you’re amenable to negotiations," Eadric replied. "I’m surprised that you’re even talking to me. Has the policy in Morne towards Trempa changed?"

"The Temple staunchly defends Orthodoxy in all of Wyre," Brey answered.

"Yes, quite," Eadric sighed.

"Unless you are prepared to atone for your sins, and accompany me to Morne for judgement, I doubt that there is little common ground here. Is that your purpose?"

"No." Eadric said. "But there are words that I would have you convey to your superiors in the Curia. First, I hereby assume the titles of Grand Master of the Temple and Inquisitor General, as both posts are currently vacant. Second, I demand that all Temple troops and resources be surrendered to me until the new Prelate is invested and ascends the throne. Third, I will enter Morne in one month. Please make the necessary preparations."

Brey laughed uproariously. "This is no embassy, it’s a farce." He turned his horse and began to ride away.

"This is your final opportunity, Brey," Eadric called after him sadly. "I doubt death will spare you a third time."

The Templar ignored him.

"So be it," Tahl said grimly.







*In the Wyre game, the scimitar replaces the longsword as the quintessential Elven weapon.

**Dan pointed out the picture of Titivilus in the 1e Monster Manual II.

***This device was adopted by Eadric after his return from the wilderness and his meeting with Rintrah. Symbolically, the phoenix of course represents rebirth, but it is also the ‘higher octave’ of the Eagle – the traditional symbol of Oronthon. One head looks left towards Law, one right towards Good, and the third straight ahead, representing the synthesis of the two principles through the dialectic of insight.
 
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MasterOfHeaven

First Post
You know, I always used to think Oronthon didn't have an alignment, but after reading the last post, I've come to the conclusion he must be LN. Oronthons sanctioning of the Devils activitives, but not the Demons, further reinforces his already known lawful tendencies, of course.

However, the fact that he actually sanctions evil acts committed by evil incarnate indicates to me he cannot be LG. Meanwhile, he has an extremely organized church, host of servants, and only allows "true" enlightenment to those who will follow his word without question, all LN traits.

He seeks to impose his own order on the world/universe in general, but has no particularly good or evil bent in doing this. I find such a figure fascinating. He's certainly different from the stereotypical gods of good and evil I'm used to.
 

thallone

First Post
MasterOfHeaven said:
However, the fact that he actually sanctions evil acts committed by evil incarnate indicates to me he cannot be LG. Meanwhile, he has an extremely organized church, host of servants, and only allows "true" enlightenment to those who will follow his word without question, all LN traits.

I disagree. Oronthon sanctions the Temptation of the goodly folk in order to cull the weak and help in the determination of the truly just in the world. It has nothing to so with the offers themselves, but rather the character of those receiving the offer.
 

Jeremy

Explorer
MasterOfHeaven said:
You know, I always used to think Oronthon didn't have an alignment, but after reading the last post, I've come to the conclusion he must be LN. Oronthons sanctioning of the Devils activitives, but not the Demons, further reinforces his already known lawful tendencies, of course.

However, the fact that he actually sanctions evil acts committed by evil incarnate indicates to me he cannot be LG. Meanwhile, he has an extremely organized church, host of servants, and only allows "true" enlightenment to those who will follow his word without question, all LN traits.

He seeks to impose his own order on the world/universe in general, but has no particularly good or evil bent in doing this. I find such a figure fascinating. He's certainly different from the stereotypical gods of good and evil I'm used to.

I disagree. I think a LG deity in his position of being basically the one true god both can and must sanction the interference of an Adversary as long as it strictly follows his (Oronthon's) rules and limitations.

Why? Because how else is he going to judge the worth of his people? How else can he know that the greatest of them must still struggle against temptation. Tough love indeed, but necessary IMVHO.
 

MasterOfHeaven

First Post
Jeremy said:


I disagree. I think a LG deity in his position of being basically the one true god both can and must sanction the interference of an Adversary as long as it strictly follows his (Oronthon's) rules and limitations.

Why? Because how else is he going to judge the worth of his people? How else can he know that the greatest of them must still struggle against temptation. Tough love indeed, but necessary IMVHO.

I figured this would be the argument. I disagree with that. First, Oronthon may be using the Devils for this purpose, but as such, he is using evil means. Now, if we want to get into moral relativism, we can, but by the D&D alignment system, evil actions make you evil, regardless of the ends you seek to achieve, therefore Oronthon, by using the Devils, is, at best, Neutral.

Secondly, if it's so neccessary to test those who follow Oronthon, why isn't he sending Devils out left and right to test everyone who professes belief in him? Why do a select few get chosen for this? That hardly seems fair or just, and I doubt a LG god would do this.

Furthermore, if he's so concerned that his servants are only being "good" because they have easy lives and no true temptations, why doesn't he simply gaze into their soul or some such to determine this? And even if he can't do this, we again go back to why he wouldn't do it to everyone.

And irregardless of even that, simply by utilizing the Devils, to cause torment and damn souls to the Nine Hells (or whatever Sepulchrave uses in his campaign) he is, again, at best Neutral, and perhaps even evil, at least by the D&D alignment system.

I think he's more LN than LE, though, as he seems more concerned with law and the obedience of his servants then his own personal power. Still, he's definitely not LG.
 

Enkhidu

Explorer
MasterOfHeaven said:


I figured this would be the argument. I disagree with that. First, Oronthon may be using the Devils for this purpose, but as such, he is using evil means. Now, if we want to get into moral relativism, we can, but by the D&D alignment system, evil actions make you evil, regardless of the ends you seek to achieve, therefore Oronthon, by using the Devils, is, at best, Neutral.

Secondly, if it's so neccessary to test those who follow Oronthon, why isn't he sending Devils out left and right to test everyone who professes belief in him? Why do a select few get chosen for this? That hardly seems fair or just, and I doubt a LG god would do this.

Furthermore, if he's so concerned that his servants are only being "good" because they have easy lives and no true temptations, why doesn't he simply gaze into their soul or some such to determine this? And even if he can't do this, we again go back to why he wouldn't do it to everyone.

And irregardless of even that, simply by utilizing the Devils, to cause torment and damn souls to the Nine Hells (or whatever Sepulchrave uses in his campaign) he is, again, at best Neutral, and perhaps even evil, at least by the D&D alignment system.

I think he's more LN than LE, though, as he seems more concerned with law and the obedience of his servants then his own personal power. Still, he's definitely not LG.

Ever read Job?

This relationship between Oronthon and the Devils smacks of the challenge between God and the Adversary in the book of Job (and I've got to say, Sep, I think the way you've managed to overlay real world dogma over top of your D&D campaign is nothing short of fantastic). If that's the case, then Oronthon most likely grudgingly allows Devils to tempt mortals, but does not actually work directly with them.

By the way, has anyone else noticed that we are now having exactly the same arguements that the Catholic Church had over God's role in temptation during the church's formative years? It's great when a campaign evokes thought from it's players on that level...

Genius, Sep - genius.
 

Elder-Basilisk

First Post
As to the question of temptation, it's quite possible that Oronthon permits the temptation of certain individuals in this story not to prove a worthiness they already have but to allow them to develop a worthiness they can have if they do not give in to temptation.

Perhaps it's impossible to really say that someone would have done something, given the opportunity. Perhaps it's only possible to say what someone will do when given the opportunity.

That's certainly something that's implied in Nwm and Eadric's dialogue regarding Brey. Eadric: "Would you do it again if events repeated themselves?" Nwm: "That question is meaningless." One reason that question could be meaningless is because events will not repeat themselves exactly and Nwm will consequently not get an opportunity to decide whether or not he would take the same actions as he did the first time.

If that is so, then the question: "Would Eadric give in to temptation?" is meaningless unless Eadric is actually tempted.
 

Sammael99

First Post
Hear, hear !

'tis back !

Thanks for coming back to us Sepulchrave. I hope you had a good time playing, getting a change of ideas (and designing epic level Valar for Middle Earth d20 ;))

Can't wait to see what happens.

About the "alignment" of Oronthon, it makes for very interesting in-game theological debates, but is pretty pointless to argue outside of the game IMO. Oronthon is Oronthon, after all...

More seriously though, I seem to remember in the early days of the second thread, Sep mentioning the fact that He had a Loyal streak and a Good streak and that these sometimes conflicted. Temptation is probably a concept emanated from the "Loyal" part of His being, I guess...

If I may venture a development, I suspect that the temptation Eadric will be submitted to will be a right rat-bastard one : Titivilus will offer to deliver Morne without bloodshed in exhange for probably nothing : accepting his help would in itself be counterpart enough for the Temptor, I guess...

That's what I would imagine to be the greatest moral dilemna Eadric could face right now...

Hope I'm not spoiling anything...
 
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Inez Hull

First Post
Great update Sep, I'm almost drooling with anticipation of all the updates to come.

BTW, on the whole Oronthan using (or at least sanctioning) Devils to tempt his followers thingey, I think it comes down to how you relate the end and the means. If your view is that the end justifies the means, then strengthening the faithful and weeding out the possibly not so faithful through diabolical agents is fully justified. However if the means and ends are seen as one, it is a totally reprehensible act.

It is ironic that though the Curia are totally opposed to diabolism and have declared Mostin a heretic for consorting with Devils, Oronthan and his host do likewise.
 

BiggusGeekus

That's Latin for "cool"
I confess I had to look up "lacuna", though I could guess it's meaning from the context.

It is good to see Ortwin involved in something.

It would seem at some point that Mostin's and Eadric's cosmologies would bump heads. Yet they co-exist? Or is one wrong, in the sense that one can be "wrong" in these matters?

edit - ps consider the notion of alternate elven sword weapons to be cut-n-pasted into my campiagn. It is an excellent notion.
 
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