The Rape of Morne - Part 2 (Updated 2/26)

This post is less complete than I had hoped, but I wanted to get the new thread underway – perhaps with the intention of spurring me to write an update quickly. This may be difficult – my work schedule is insane at present, and I’ve had little time to game – much less write – for the past month or so. Nonetheless, the backlog is very large.

Do not expect anything too soon! I will do my best.

Many thanks for kind words. The story continues, albeit at a slower pace…




You See

Eadric sat cross-legged in his tent and looked at his God. Tramst – who, of course, was Oronthon – looked remarkably unchanged and unprepossessing. There was no celestial choir, no radiant light, and no feeling of awe. There was, in fact, no indication that this was anything other than a normal human being.

The Devas who had escorted him had vanished – Eadric had not dared to use Palamabron’s Eye to see if they still remained in some insubstantial form nearby, any more than he had dared to look at Tramst himself through the stone. It would have somehow been blasphemous. He wondered if even thinking about using it was a sign of his unworthiness and lack of faith.

Tramst raised his eyebrows and smiled sympathetically.

Lord, I fear. I doubt.

Well, yes, I know that. So what’s your point? And don’t call me ‘Lord.’ A simple ‘Holiness’ will suffice (irony).

I do not know how to proceed.

Ahh. And how, exactly, is that different from how things were say, yesterday, or a year ago? Or five years ago?

In order to come to understand you more, the fiend Titivilus informs me that I must deal with him on an ongoing basis. That he will act as a foil to my…

Virtue? Piety?

(Profound discomfort.) Holiness, I feel unworthy…

(Raised eyebrows.)

(Shame at false modesty…)

(SLAP.) (Smile.)

(Humility)

Your brother, Orm, frequently struck me when he taught me. (Laughter). He looked terribly offended on the morning that I slapped him back.

Where is Orm now, Holiness? Will he be coming?

No. Why should he, when he can meditate in solitude?

But I may visit him, when things are quieter?

Well, of course. Why could you not? When could you not?

(SILENCE.)

What do you wish of me, Holiness?

To be active in the world. To be the Ahma. To lead. To act as a guardian and protector. To be my strong right arm.

But Nehael. (Guilt. Longing. Conflict of interests. Confusion. Despair.)

I appreciate your honesty and directness.

I don’t know what to do. Part of me desires to be selfish. I fear that I will resent you if I abandon her. I fear that I will fall if I pursue her, and you will withdraw your grace from me.

It is a difficult conundrum (humour). You have the right to choose. That can never be denied.

She suffers.

As do countless others.

I fear Titivilus.

That is wise. He is subtle and cunning. But he is not beyond your ability to deal with.

I feel confounded by him – why is he tied to my own salvation? His temptation is to be free of his presence. If I accept it, I fail. If I reject it, am I burdened with his whisperings for eternity?

There are always Devils. To deny it would be fruitless.

Part of me wishes to ask you to release me – if only for a short while.

Are you asking me?

(Shakes head). No.

Then what will you do, Eadric-Ahma?

Put my trust in you. Command me, and I will obey. I will abandon Nehael to whatever fate awaits her. But I ask that you grant me the strength to endure my guilt and shame.

And you still hope that, in so making that offer, I will take mercy upon you and release you from my service?

Yes – or part of me does, at least. But the offer is made in spite of that hope, not because of it.

(Leans forward and touches Eadric lightly on the forehead).


SEEING FOR THE FIRST TIME I-THOU BEING-NONBEING-BECOMING KNOWING-UNKNOWING SEEKING-FINDING-LOSING-FINDING TIME-BEING ETERNITY-NONBEING NOW-BECOMING EVERYTHING-NOTHING IDENTITY-DIFFERENCE RELATIVE-ABSOLUTE. NOTHING IS. NOTHING IS NOT. NOTHING BECOMES.

Saizha*,” Oronthon said.

Eadric wasn’t sure if it was a question, or not, and knew that it didn’t matter. Duality had evaporated in a soaring ecstasy.


**


I will enter Morne, now, and take up my seat in the Fane.

I will follow.

That is not necessary. I will go alone. Instruct the army to wait, although not to stand down – they will not be needed quite yet. And not in the capacity that many anticipated.

Then command me.

(Smiles). You are free. Do as you must do. I will recall you to my side when I need you.

(Disbelief). But that is not what you require of me.

No. But I grant it nonetheless.

But why?

(Laughter). Because you didn’t ask. Consider Grace to have descended upon you for the third time. Remember, you are empowered to decide right from wrong.

Titivilus insisted that you will demand much of me. That you will not compromise. That you will push me to my limit. He did not lie.

And so I will. But not yet. Eadric, it is not always this or that. There is room for flexibility.

But Morne. And Graz’zt?

Will do what it is in his nature to do. What is Necessity, if Oronthon is not unlimited?

What will happen?

Rivers of blood will flow. You will know what to do.

Holiness, forgive me – but what will you do?

I will weep.


And he vanished.

*

“Well?” Nwm asked.

The Paladin tried to speak, but merely looked frustrated, unable to convey the full magnitude of the experience.

“Is he a man, or a god?” Ortwin asked.

“Yes,” Eadric replied.

But his face shone with a light that never after left him.


**


“So, what is he going to do, exactly?” Ortwin asked. “Will there be a big showdown with Graz’zt, with lots of fireworks?”

Eadric sighed. “That is not his function. He will provide succour to those who need it, and guidance, and instruction. He is a teacher, not a soldier.”

“You’d think he’d be a bit more pro-active.”

“Hah!” Mostin said snidely. “Fat chance. He’s probably just your typical aloof deity-type, following his own, mysterious plans. Don’t expect him to put himself on the line.”

The Paladin moaned. “Let’s just leave out the motivational analysis. The fact is, I will have a temporary grace period in which I can act. I don’t know how long it will last, but we should seize the opportunity.”

“Er, how long are we talking, Ed?” Ortwin asked. “Hours? Days? Months?”

“I don’t know.”

“Hmm. That’s not much help.” Ortwin said sarcastically. “And what’s going to happen with Prince You-Know-Who? Is he still coming here?”

“Yes.”

“In an hour or so?”

“Yes.”

“Is there anything else you should tell us?”

Eadric briefly related the news about Jovol. And Kothchori. And Rimilin. And the exchange with Titivilus.

Mostin groaned. “It might have been useful if you’d told us this earlier.”

“There wasn’t time.”

“I don’t understand,” Ortwin said. “You said that this is an either/or situation. Titivilus’ temptation was based on that premise.”

Mostin merely laughed. “I think you’ll find that if you were to analyze exactly what the Devil said, you’d find plenty of loopholes and incomplete accounts. Without him actually lying, of course. I don’t blame you, Eadric. Even my colossal intellect was hard-pressed to contend with his nuances and intimations.”

“That’s reassuring,” Nwm said drily. “So is this Devil going to harass you from now on?”

“He will jibe me, and attempt to lead me astray, and at the same time I will use him to purify myself.”

“You definitely need to speak to Shomei,” Mostin grinned. “I didn’t know that Oronthon endorsed such radical methods.”

“Generally, he doesn’t. I am the Ahma, however.”

“I thought Devils were only allowed one shot at the temptation thing,” Ortwin said. “Isn’t that some kind of violation of the rules?”

“The rules are changing,” Eadric replied.

“Perhaps,” Mostin said. “I think that the usual rules simply don’t apply to you any more. I see it in you Eadric. We are brethren now.”

Eadric looked confused, and more than a little worried.

“You are like me. You are no longer a man. You have transcended.” Mostin bowed in recognition.

“Being a quasi-semi-hemi-demigod is all very well,” Nwm said impatiently, “but the basic problem of what the hell should we do? remains. Currently I can sense no extraplanars or arcane casters of Rimilin’s power within Morne, so where exactly are they all?”

“Elsewhere, or Mind Blanked,” Mostin replied. “Tramst will not even show as a ripple in your continuum, Nwm. Any more than Graz’zt, or Rimilin, or Kothchori, I’d guess.”

“Jovol can sense them indirectly,” Eadric said.

“Can he indeed?” Mostin seemed half-dubious and half excited at the prospect.

“Titivilus informed me that Jovol is more powerful than the rest of the Wyrish wizards appreciate.”

“Go on…”

“He says that Hlioth knew him from before. That he is capable of…self incarnation? It may have been a metaphor. I don’t know. He was vague about the details.”

Nwm clicked his fingers. “Hello? Can we please deal with the matter in hand? We can discuss arcane mysteries at a later time. As I see it, we have two options: one, we hit Graz’zt when he arrives, and all die; or, two, we translate to the Abyss while he’s here, try to bust out Nehael…and all die. Other suggestions which do not include the ‘death’ component would be appreciated.”

“The first option is not an option in any case,” Mostin replied. “We will not find him unless he wishes to be found. In which case, he would kill us all in short order.”

“You’re going about this the wrong way,” Ortwin said casually. “We call his bluff. We can’t attack him directly, no matter what the circumstances are. We’ve already broken Ainhorr’s sword, imprisoned Rurunoth and snuffed out another one - which Balor did you disintegrate, Mostin?”

“I’ve no idea,” the Alienist replied.

“I can answer that,” Eadric said. “His name was Uruum – at least, according to Titivilus.”

“Aside from Ainhorr, that leaves Choeth, Irzho and Djorm,” Mostin said. “One of whom is already on the Prime.”

“Then let’s call in another one,” Ortwin said. “And kill him. And then another one. And when we’ve killed them all, we can start on the Mariliths, and the Nalfeshnees. We can break this bastard without going toe-to-toe with him, Ed.”

“I think Eadric has issues about conjuring demons,” Mostin said drily, “no matter what the motives.”

“Maybe he did once,” the Paladin replied, “but he’s damn well earned the right to decide whether the ends justify the means or not. And I have no reservations on this count.”

“Are you above the Law now, Ed?” Ortwin asked slyly.

“When I’ve decided exactly what the Law is, I’ll let you know,” Eadric answered. “In any case, we should probably wait until after Graz’zt has made his translation, and done whatever it is that he plans to do.”

“I’m not sure of the merit of that idea…” Mostin began.

“Titivilus expressly warned me against irritating Graz’zt too much before he acts. He seems to think that it might precipitate an overreaction. Jovol has been reluctant to interfere for the same reason.”

“And you trust him?” Ortwin asked.

“No,” Eadric replied.

“All the same, he might be right,” Mostin conceded. “That is entirely plausible. Demon Princes are not renowned for their tolerant natures.”

“Plausibility is what worries me,” Ortwin countered.

“I hear you,” Eadric agreed.

“In any case,” Mostin continued, “I need to prepare – and that will take some while. But I don’t have adequate free valences to do it all in one evening.”

“Do what?”

“To bind and destroy two Balors,” Mostin grinned. “It will have to wait until tomorrow. And I’ll need to find out which one is already present on the Prime.”

“I seem to recall your needing expensive gems,” Eadric said.

“To trap them, yes,” the Alienist said. “To kill them, no. We just kill them.”

“Are you sure it’s that easy?” Nwm asked.

“Piece of cake,” Mostin smiled.

“Why do I get the feeling that we’ve had this conversation before?” Eadric groaned.

“Perhaps we should ransom one,” the Bard suggested. “Propose an exchange. Can you bring a succubus in as well?”

“I suppose so,” Mostin said.

“Then let’s kill a Balor, stick another one in a pentacle, bind a succubus and instruct her that we’ll kill the second one unless Graz’zt releases Nehael, and then dismiss her to relay the news to her master,” Ortwin seemed delighted with his plan.

“I’m not convinced that Graz’zt will go for a ransom deal,” Mostin said dubiously. “It’s difficult to know exactly what passes in the mind of any Demon, much less one of his stature. Who can tell how he thinks, or what his counsels are, or what things motivate him? Moreover, what of Kothchori? If he is capable of opening a Gate once, he can do it again. If we rouse Graz’zt’s ire to that degree, then it is likely he will deal with us swiftly and decisively. I say we hit Kothchori first. And after the Prince has made his return to the Abyss. We must break the link.”

“He is undetectable,” Eadric groaned.

“Not entirely,” Mostin replied. “If Titivilus was accurate in his appraisal of Jovol’s abilities.”

“Can you contact the Ogre?” Nwm asked. “He would be a useful ally.”

“Jovol follows his own rules,” Mostin answered. “When I have tried in the past, he has been unforthcoming. But it is possible.”

“Hlioth knows more about him than anyone else,” Eadric said. “It may be worth approaching her.” He looked at the Bard.

Ortwin sighed.

“There is another possibility,” Mostin said tentatively. “It is very dangerous.”

Eadric raised an eyebrow. “If it involves more Devils, then the answer is ‘no.’ I’ve got enough to deal with on that score already.”

“Pseudonaturals,” Mostin said. “Big ones.”

“I think I like that even less,” Eadric said. He sighed. “By rights, we should deal with our dead, before we do anything else. They should be taken in state into Morne – all deserve a place in the Temple crypts. But it will have to wait. And I suppose that, as we do not know exactly how or where Graz’zt will strike, we must simply wait until he does and then react accordingly in the aftermath. But it is frustrating. I feel impotent. Now would be a time to possess some insight into his nature, to be able to predict what he might do.”

“Presumably, Tramst could have told you, if he is privy to that information,” Ortwin sighed. “Why didn’t he?”

“I don’t claim to fully understand his methods,” the Paladin answered. “But I have no doubt as to his motives. And I am not above being addressed expediently.”**

“Has it occurred to you that that is one of the functions of Titivilus,” Ortwin pointed out. “From Oronthon’s perspective, at least. By entering into a dialogue with Evil, you come to understand it. To anticipate its movements and action. There may come a point when you can pre-empt it.”

“Maybe,” Eadric replied. “There might be a thousand other reasons, each equally plausible. I also think that thinking about it too hard is likely to lead to irreducible paradox, so I’m not going to get started on it.”

“A wise choice,” Nwm nodded.


**


Uedii, the Goddess, the Green Reality, groaned as yet another extraplanar entity desecrated her realm by manifesting within its confines. She was still far from her limit – as far as tolerating the interlopers was concerned. Her near-infinite capacity for absorption had, in the past, accommodated entire pantheons of warring gods, before she squashed them like flies.

Nonetheless, Nature was irritated. Clouds began to gather over Morne. Feys became short-tempered and vicious. Far to the south, in the archipelago of Pandicule, a volcano – long dormant – rumbled threateningly.

Prince Graz’zt appeared before the mage Kothchori in the sanctum of his island retreat, and the wizard quailed. Nearby, bound within a thaumaturgic diagram, the Archon Zhuel stood in silent meditation.

Graz’zt smiled. To be able to use this Archon had been an unexpected pleasure. His face screwed up as he considered Uzmi and Uruum and Rurunoth, and contorted wildly as he thought of Eadric.

“You are fuel, Archon,” the Prince said snidely. “Consider this: when your sublime form expires after aeons of servitude to your effulgent master, your spirit will be consumed and transformed into something filthy and loathesome.”

Zhuel said nothing. His face remained serene and impassive. As the Demon absorbed his essence, and swelled with the potency so imbibed, Zhuel gave no indication of pain or discomfort, and shot no look of hatred or contempt towards the Fiend. His annihilation was accompanied by an expression of profound pity for Graz’zt, which threw the Prince into a brief but prodigious rage. After a minute of paroxysm, he abruptly mastered himself.


The Demon appeared in Morne for a few seconds, spoke a phrase so terrible that space itself buckled under the strain, and promptly vanished exhausted back to his Abyssal realm.

A surge of elemental hatred broke outwards from the place where he had stood: the same spot in the Orangery of the Temple where Feezuu had slain the Archbishop Cynric. The Aether reverberated sympathetically. Fruit rapidly ripened, spoiled and fell to the ground in festering heaps. The grass wilted, and the orchard blackened and died.

Madness seized the already distressed inhabitants of Morne.




*Lit., “You See.”

**Ascended Masters and Saints within Oronthonianism frequently give cryptic or incomplete accounts to lesser beings, in the knowledge that often such creatures are incapable of understanding the full ramifications of information that would otherwise be imparted.


Dark Subsumption is a method used to fuel Epic Spells cast by certain fiends, which involves the annihilation of powerful outsiders. The mechanics were only worked out after I had access to the BoVD.

Wave of Hate was the spell that Graz’zt invoked. It will be detailed in the next post.





The Characters

Although I’d normally post them in the Rogues’ Gallery, here are the characters as of this post. My rewards aren’t always conventional, so it’s probably worth explaining a few things:

Eadric
Levelling was rapid for Eadric from 18-20: the final level was, in fact “free” to all intents and purposes – the transcendence granted by Tramst in this post (i.e. a 5th level Divine Disciple). Marc is targeting the Divine Emissary PrC from the Epic Level Handbook, although he has yet to decide the intervening levels. Maybe Divine Agent from MotP.

I am using the idea of ‘levelled weapons’ for Lukarn – i.e., as Eadric grows in stature, so does the sword. This had been the plan since around level 13-14, although I had neglected to implement it (oops). Eadric’s transcendence seemed like a good point for a large growth in the sword’s abilities, perhaps reflecting an ‘awakening’ similar to that of its master.

Rewards for Eadric were big, but Marc deserved them. He’d been a truly awesome player.


Ortwin
Rob had already foregone advancing one level of experience, and did so again in order to fully rationalize his character (in his mind). I allowed him to apply the remaining benefits of the Satyr race, which the reincarnation spell had denied him – these included the Fey hit dice and skill points (minus those extra x4 which he would have gained at 1st level), and three feats (two of which he already possessed). As Ortwin originally had an extra feat on conversion to 3e, Rob and I came to an arrangement which suited both of us: Ortwin’s Satyr-ness was fully integrated both mechanically and in the role-playing sense, and the inconsistencies of the reincarnation spell were resolved. Ortwin is no longer a reincarnated half-elf. He really is a Satyr, in every sense. Rob is happy with Satyrdom, although he feels he will be shafted by the ELH multiclassing rules.

It also meant that the ‘is he ECL +5 or not?’ question was resolved. He now is. Of course, when he levels to 18, he will receive another feat. Epic Skill Focus (Bluff) looks likely. One has to work hard to remain the best liar in the world.


Nwm
Nwm levelled, and I allowed Dave to trade out TWF and Improved TWF for some feats from MotW – reflecting a gradual ‘forgetting’ of abilities, to be replaced by new ones. I’m pretty flexible in that regard, and Nwm is less optimized than the other characters anyhow. Nwm will stick with Druid all the way.

Mostin
Dan decided to pump all of his XP into a +5 inherent bonus to Mostin’s intelligence instead of levelling to 19. Mostin now has a ‘brain the size of a planet,’ as Marvin, the Paranoid Android, once said.



More generally, I allowed a retrospective reallotment of skill points in the case of previous cross-class skills for Eadric: Knowledge (Religion) and Knowledge (Nobility) shouldn’t be quite such a sink for a Paladin. I also did the same based on Mostin’s Intelligence increases over several levels – note, however that I do not allow the Headband of Intellect to increase skill points gained per level. That’s just silly.

Mostin, having maxed out the skills that were any use to him, opted to throw them into Craft skills. Apparently, Illumination and Engraving have been a secret passion of his for some while…


Eadric, Earl of Deorham
Male human Paladin 15 / Divine Disciple 5; CR 20; Medium size outsider (human); HD 15d10+60 plus 5d8 + 20; hp 201; Init +1; Speed 20 ft; AC 28 (touch 11, flatfooted 27); Attack: +30/+25/+20/+15 melee (Lukarn) or +27/+22/+17/+12 (Kirm); Dmg: 1d10+11 (15-20/x2)(Luakrn) or 1d8+9 (x3) (Kirm). SV Fort +23, Ref +13, Will +18; AL LG; Str 18 (24), Dex 13, Con 18, Int 12, Wis 16, Cha 23.

Languages: Common, Celestial

Skills: Ride +16, Knowledge (Religion) +18, Knowledge (Nobility) +9, Diplomacy +29, Handle Animal +11, Perform +10 (Ballad, Ode, Lute, Dance), Knowledge (History) +6, Sense Motive +18.

Feats: Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Bastard Sword), Power Attack, Mounted Combat, Ride-by-Attack, Spirited Charge, Weapon Focus (Bastard Sword), Improved Critical (Bastard Sword), Divine Might.

Special Abilities: Detect Evil at will, Divine Grace, Lay on Hands (75hp/day), Divine Health, Aura of Courage, Smite Evil (1/day, +15 dmg), Remove Disease (5/week), Turn Undead (as CLE 13, 8/day). Strength Domain Power (1/day: +20 to Str for 1 round). Divine Emissary (Telepathy w/ LG celestials in 60 ft.), Sacred Defense +2, Imbue with Spell Ability, Transcendence.

Spells: -/4/4/4/3. Prepared spells vary, but usually include "Holy Sword." Plus Strength domain spells: Endure Elements, Bull’s Strength, Magic Vestment, Spell Immunity. Caster level 12.

Magic Items:
"Lukarn." +4 LG Keen Fiend Bane Sunblade. Int 14, Wis 17, Cha 18. Empathy. 1 x Extraordinary Ability: Heal 1/day. Special Purpose: Slay Chaotic Evil Creatures. Special Purpose Power: Confusion. Lukarn has an Ego of 25.
"The Skin of Sarth." +4 Full Plate Armour of Invulnerability.
"Melimpor's Iron Girdle." Belt of Giant Strength +6.
"Melimpor's Shield." A Large +3 Shield of Blinding.
"Kirm." Heavy +2 Dragonbane Lance.
3 Javelins of Lightning
4 Potions of Cure Serious Wounds; 2 Potions of Haste.
The Left Eye of Palamabron: A Gem of Seeing with the “Discern Lies,” “Zone of Revelation,” and “Zone of Truth” abilities as cast by a 20th level Cleric usable at will.

34 Years. 190 lbs. 6’1”


Ortwin the Satyr
Male Satyr Fighter5/Rogue5/Bard7; Medium-size fey; HD 5d6+20 plus 5d10+20 plus 5d6+20 plus 7d6+28; hp 175; Init +10; Speed 40 ft; AC 28 (touch 16, flatfooted 22 ++ Displacement Effects); Attack: +27/+22/+17/+12 (Githla) or +26/+21/+16/+11 (Anguish and +3 arrow); Dmg: 1d6+7 (12-20/x2) (Githla) or 1d8 +5 + enervation (Anguish and +3 arrow); SV Fort +12, Ref +20, Will +12; AL CG(N Tendencies); Str 13, Dex 22, Con 18, Int 15, Wis 12, Cha 20 (24).

Languages: Common, Draconic, Old Borchion, Elf, Sylvan

Skills: Perform +31 (20 Ranks: Storytelling, Epic, Chant, Drum, Lyre, Lute, Pipe, Mime, Formal Dance, Folkdance, Folksong, Sword Swallowing, Juggling, Pan Pipes, Clarion, Satire), Bluff +32, Pick Pocket +14, Climb +9, Swim +7, Hide +29, Move Silently +29, Disguise +13, Knowledge (Arcana) +6, Innuendo +13, Open Lock +12, Use Magic Device +15, Search +11, Spot +22, Listen +19.

Feats: Weapon Focus (Scimitar), Weapon Finesse (Scimitar - Yes, I allow this), Dodge, Expertise, Mobility, Weapon Specialization (Scimitar), Skill Focus (Bluff), Spring Attack, Whirlwind Attack, Improved Critical (Scimitar), Brew Potion, Improved Initiative.

Special Abilities: Sneak Attack +3d6, Evasion, Uncanny Dodge (Flatfooted Dex Bonus), Bardic Music, Bardic Knowledge. +4 Racial Bonus to Hide, Listen, Perform, Spot and Move Silently checks.


Spells: 3/5/4/2 per day. Known: 0lvl: Dancing Lights, Daze, Flare, Light, Read Magic, Prestidigitation; 1st lvl: Sleep, Charm Person, Cure Light Wounds, Alarm, Ventriloquism; 2nd lvl: Silence, Cat's Grace, Glitterdust, Detect Thoughts; 3rd lvl: Major Image, Scrying.

Magic Items:

"Dread Githla." +4 Keen, Throwing and Returning Scimitar
Cloak of Displacement (Major)
+5 Studded Leather Armour
The Blue Garnet Collar (Grants wearer +4 to Charisma).
Winged Boots
Potion of Fiery Breath.
Potion of Invisibility.
“Anguish.” A +1 Magical (+3 Mighty) Composite Longbow of Enervation. Those struck by missiles from this weapon are affected as though by the spell of the same name (Save DC17).
20 x +3 Arrows
Masterwork Pan Pipes
Masterwork Lute
Hat of Disguise



Nwm the Preceptor
Male human Druid 18; medium sized humanoid (human); HD 18d8+36; hp 121; Init +1; Speed 30 ft; AC 19 (Touch 11, flat-footed 18); Attack: +18/+13/+8 (Magical Quarterstaff) or +15 (Magical Javelin) Dmg: 1d6+4 (x2) (Magical Quarterstaff) or 1d6 +3 (x2) (Magical Javelin), SV Fort +13, Ref +7, Will +16; AL NG; Str 14, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 15, Wis 20, Cha 17.

Languages: Common, Elven, Sylvan, Druidic

Skills: Animal Empathy +19, Handle Animal +9, Swim +10, Intuit Direction +10, Concentration +18, Wilderness Lore +26, Knowledge (Nature) + 22, Knowledge (Arcana) +6, Scry +18, Spellcraft +11, Diplomacy +8, Heal +7, Profession (Herbalist) +11, Craft (Leatherworker) +6

Feats: Weapon Focus (Quarterstaff), Ambidexterity, Extra Wild Shape, Create Infusion, Brew Potion, Craft Wondrous Item, Natural Spell, Snatch

Special Abilities: Woodland Stride, Trackless Step, +4 on Saves vs. Fey Enchantments, Wild Shape (6/day; Huge; Elemental 3/day), Venom Immunity, A Thousand Faces, Timeless Body.

Spells Per Day: 6/7/6/6/6/5/4/3/3/2

Nwm's Staff (+2 Staff of the Woodlands topped with an Orb of Storms)
"Leofric's Token," a +3 Amulet of Natural Armour
+3 Leather Armour
"The Bleeding Spears of Huttur," 2x +1 Javelins of Wounding
Bag of Tricks (Rust Colour)
Nwm’s Torc: Command activated device which allows the wearer to ‘Commune with Nature’ as cast by a 9th level Druid.


46 Years; 178lbs; 5’11”


Mostin the Metagnostic
Human Diviner 8 / Alienist 10; medium-size outsider (human); HD 8d4+8 plus 10d4+10 +6 (Insane Certainty); hp 74; Init +3; Speed 30 ft; AC 22 (touch 17, flat-footed 19); Attack: +10/+5 MW Rapier melee; Dmg: 1d6+1 MW Rapier melee (18-20/x2), SV Fort +7, Ref +9, Will +18; AL N(G Tendencies); Str 11, Dex 16, Con 13, Int 27 (33), Wis 16 (18), Cha 12.

Intelligence includes a +5 Inherent bonus.

Languages: Common, Draconic, Celestial, Abyssal, Infernal, Auran, Ignan, Terran, Aquan, Elven

Skills: Knowledge (Arcana) +32, Knowledge (The Planes) +32, Knowledge (History) +32, Knowledge (Geography) +32, Knowledge (Nobility) +20, Knowledge (Engineering) +20, Spellcraft +32, Alchemy +32, Scry +32, Concentration +32, Craft (Illumination) +21, Craft (Engraving) +21, Ride +5.

Feats: Martial Weapon Proficiency (Rapier), Scribe Scroll, Brew Potion, Alertness, Craft Wondrous Item, Quicken Spell, Still Spell, Maximize Spell, Chain Spell, Energy Substitution (sonic), Empower Spell, Spell Focus (Conjuration).

Special Abilities: Alien Blessing (+1 Insight Bonus on Saving Throws), Extra Summoning, Summon Alien, Insane Certainty, Timeless Body, Pseudonatural Familiar, Transcendence

Phobia: birds.


Spells: 4/7/7/7/6/6/6/5/4/3 per day. Specialty: Divination (+1 spell/level/day). Extra Summoning = 1 x Summon Monster IX. Prohibited: Necromancy. Save DC 21 + spell level (or 23 + spell level for Conjurations).

Known:

0lvl: All PHB Cantrips.

1st lvl: Sleep, Charm Person, Alarm, Ventriloquism, Know Protections, Lesser Acid Orb, Enlarge, Chromatic Orb, Expeditious Retreat, Mount, Message, Summon Monster, Comprehend Languages, Detect Undead, Identify, True Strike, Jump, Spider Climb, Magic Missile.

2nd lvl. Detect Thoughts, Summon Swarm, Tasha’s Hideous Laughter, Summon Monster II, Web, Locate Object, Detect Invisibility, Darkness, Alter Self, Knock, Cat's Grace, Bull's Strength, Eagle's Splendour, Fox’s Cunning, Arcane Lock, Continual Flame, Obscure Object, Whispering Wind, Dimensional Pocket, Mostin's Aura of Inscrutability, Mostin's Arhythmic Apoplexy, Mostin's Myopic Emanation

3rd lvl: Avoid Planar Effects, Phantom Steed, Stinking Cloud, Summon Monster III, Fireball, Lightning Bolt, Magic Circle Against Chaos/Evil/Good/Law, Nondetection, Arcane Sight, Dispel Magic, Tongues, Fly, Clairaudience/Clairvoyance.

4th lvl: Dimensional Anchor, Evard's Black Tentacles, Minor Creation, Summon Monster IV, Arcane Eye, Detect Scrying, Locate Creature, Leomund’s Secure Shelter, Scrying, Charm Monster, Stoneskin, Phantasmal Killer, Shadow Conjuration, Zone of Respite, Ethereal Mount, Vitriolic Sphere, Improved Bull’s Strength, Improved Cat’s Grace, Improved Fox’s Cunning, Attune Form, Polymorph Self, Mostin's Interminable Sermon, Mostin's Torque Tendril, Zone of Revelation.

5th lvl: Dismissal, Lesser Planar Binding, Cloudkill, Major Creation, Summon Monster V, Contact Other Plane, Fabricate, Prying Eyes, Rary's Telepathic Bond, Dream, Nightmare, Mestil’s Acid Sheath, Wall of Force, Sending, Teleport, Mostin's Metempsychotic Reversal, Mostin's Paroxysm of Fire, Permanency, Tenser’s Destructive Resonance.

6th lvl: Repulsion, Gate Seal, Eyebite, Make Manifest, Hardening, Contingency, Acid Storm, Antimagic Field, Fiendform, Disintegrate, Planar Binding, Summon Monster VI, Analyze Dweomer, Legend Lore, True Seeing, Chain Lightning, Guards and Wards, Tenser's Transformation, Mass Haste, Mostin's Id Eruption

7th lvl: Banishment, Sequester, Energy Immunity, Vipergout, Delayed Blast Fireball, Teleport Without Error, Spell Turning, Summon Monster VII, Greater Scrying, Vision, Insanity, Plane Shift, Ethereal Jaunt, Limited Wish, Reality Maelstrom, Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion.

8th lvl: Mind Blank, Greater Planar Binding, Great Shout, Summon Monster VIII, Sympathy, Trap the Soul, Discern Location, Binding, Etherealness, Mostin's Metagnostic Inquiry, Polymorph any Object, Mass Manifest, Symbol, Maze.

9th lvl: Summon Monster IX, Wish, Gate, Time Stop, Prismatic Sphere, Imprisonment.

Magic Items:

Looking Glass of Urm Nahat (Mirror of Mental Prowess)
Portable Hole
Bracers of Armour +4
Ring of Protection +4
Incandescent Blue Sphere Ioun Stone (+2 Wis)
Pale Green Prism Ioun Stone (Sustains without Air)
Iridescent Spindle Ioun Stone (Sustains without Food or Water)
Amulet of Absorption (21 Spell Levels Remain): 3 currently stored
Headband of Intellect +6
Robe of Eyes
Belt of Many Pockets
Mostin's Comfortable Retreat
4 Potions of "Cure Serious Wounds."
 
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A Brief Note for the Mystically Inclined

Regarding Eadric's experience:


SEEING FOR THE FIRST TIME

There is a compounded meaning within this phrase. Not only saizhan – i.e. “Insight,” but also insight into the nature of insight, and insight into that etc. The rational mind rapidly loses the ability to grasp the spiralling nature of the Real.

I-THOU

This calls into question the conventional apprehension that the object (in this case, Oronthon/Tramst) and the subject (Eadric) are, in fact, separate entities. By extension, all other dualities between the perceiver and the perceived are shown to be merely conventional, and not ultimately Real.


BEING-NONBEING-BECOMING

The three possible ontological states as understood by Urgic Mysticism: either something is, or is not or is in the process of becoming something else. No phenomenon, when viewed from the standpoint of conventional philosophy, can exist outside of this triad. Again, this is called into question by saizhan when describing the Real.


KNOWING-UNKNOWING

The nature of saizhan itself cannot be framed in conventional epistemological language, and transcends the usual categories of gnostic understanding. The duality between whether the Real is known, or whether it is not, is also shown to be false.


SEEKING-FINDING-LOSING-FINDING

The rational mind attempts unsuccessfully to reassert itself and grasp the nature of the Real. During the experience of saizhan, when the subject attempts to articulate the nature of the Real using conventional thought, the experience eludes him. Only when it is lost to the rational mind, can its nature be apprehended. The Real is slippery.


TIME-BEING ETERNITY-NONBEING NOW-BECOMING

The ontological triad (being, nonbeing, becoming) is linked with the three temporal states (conventional linear time, timelessness/eternity and the moment Now), but saizhan reveals these correspondances to be nothing more than convenient labels. The true nature of the Real is beyond these categories, and cannot be described by normal temporal language.


EVERYTHING-NOTHING

The extremes of monism (i.e., the philosophical idea that ‘all is one’), and nihilism (‘nothing is Real’) are shown to be false conceptions – saizhan reveals that the duality between them is constructed, not Real.


IDENTITY-DIFFERENCE

An important point, in which saizhan diverges from other mystical systems. Even the duality between regarding whether something is identical to something else, or different from it is shown to be vacuous.


RELATIVE-ABSOLUTE

The philosophical coup, which marks saizhan as unique (and is a demonstration of Tramst’s genius). Here, the distinction between the Real (the absolute) and the merely conventional (the relative) is shown to be false. Even this duality is addressed. Now there is nothing left for the rational mind to grasp onto.


NOTHING IS. NOTHING IS NOT. NOTHING BECOMES

The final, bold assertion framed as a threefold dialectic of negation, and reiterating the ontological questions raised before. The Real cannot be described as either existing or not existing, or as being in the process of becoming. This is the central mystical assertion of saizhan.
 

Sorry for the slight delay (ahem). As I've said, updates are likely to be less frequent from now on (although, hopefully, not quite this infrequent.)

I'll try and stop in again later today to answer any questions that I haven't yet addressed.

If any kind moderators are around, some radical pruning of this thread would be enormously appreciated...


***



The Rape


Wyrt, a cloth-merchant of considerable financial means, lived in a large, comfortable manse in the Temple district of Morne. His home – constructed on a single level in the antique style – was maintained to immaculate standards. Pristine whitewashed walls, a red clay pan-tiled roof, and a neat, formal garden were looked after by Wyrt’s small but diligent retinue of indentured servants.

Wyrt – a member of Morne’s influential middle class – enjoyed his life, although of late the war had taken a toll on his income. His wife, Qéma, was a younger daughter of the Silubrein household – relatives of the incumbent Earl of Scir Cellod in the south of Wyre. The marriage had been a favorable one, elevating Wyrt to quasi-noble status, and benefiting the Silubreins with a much-needed boost to their near-empty coffers. Wyrt was a Gilded Thane, in the popular parlance – regarded with disdain by those of established pedigree, but nonetheless one who wielded as much power as many of those who could trace their lineage back twenty generations.

An hour before sunset, as clouds were gathering again in the sky above Morne, and many wondered what new sorcery was at work, Wyrt suddenly paused above his ledgers and accounts, his quill pen twitching nervously in his hand. He swallowed, and his hackles rose. Blood thundered in his temples as he thought of Qéma, and he wondered what folly had led him to marry her in the first place. He glanced around his study, selected a sturdy marble book-end, and went in search of his wife.

Wyrt never had a chance to smash her skull, however, because as he exited a small drawing-room, Qéma stood in wait for him. She pushed a long larding needle into his throat, and Wyrt fell over, gurgled briefly, and died.

In a red haze, Qéma walked outside and went to look for the gardener, who had annoyed her earlier that day by what she perceived as his mismanagement of the shrubbery.

Across Morne, with minor variations, the pattern was repeated a thousand times.


**


"The Goddess is angry," Nwm said with startling certainty, as his torc relayed a variety of natural grumblings to his mind.

"Graz’zt has come?" Eadric asked anxiously. "Can you determine his whereabouts?"

"I cannot," Nwm answered. "And Graz’zt is merely the latest in a succession of aliens who should not be here." The Druid’s disdain towards demons, devils, celestials and incarnate deities alike was barely concealed. His perceptions shifted repeatedly as he tried to focus on something tangible in his consciousness. Half a minute passed.

Across his field of inner vision, tiny points of light – sentient beings – appeared. All of those within nine miles, in fact. There were eighty-four thousand three hundred and nineteen of them. In the Temple district of Morne, many flared rapidly – enjoying a brief moment of intensity – before they disappeared permanently. He watched in morbid fascination as lives were snuffed out.

Death – unnatural - violence – the desire to do great violence – fear – hatred.

Nwm vomited, as his groping mind resonated with the emotional reality of what was transpiring within the city.

"Hatred," he gasped.

"Enchantment?" Mostin asked cannily.

"Yes. YES."

"Intriguing," the Alienist observed.

"Is it permanent?" the Paladin asked. "Are those who enter likely to feel its effects?"

"No, and no," Mostin answered. "Unless Graz’zt’s stature has somehow grown tenfold."

"Do we really know how powerful he is?" Ortwin asked nervously.

"Not that powerful," Mostin assured him.

"Er, so remind me why exactly Oronthon’s avatar isn’t doing anything about this," Ortwin said sarcastically.

"I am in no mood for a Theological debate," Eadric snapped.

"Nwm would say Thealogical," Mostin quipped.

The Druid groaned, and abruptly turned into an eagle. He exited the tent, screeched, and was quickly joined by two more – Sem and Gheim. The three flew towards Morne. Eadric, Ortwin and Mostin followed him out, to be greeted by a riot of colour – Templars, aristocrats, soldiers and mercenaries – all of whom had expectant looks upon their faces.

Ahma, they cried with one voice.

Oh, Sh*t, thought the Paladin. The damn army wanted someone to tell them what to do. He motioned to Brey and Sercion, who approached expectantly.

"Assemble every anointed Templar*," Eadric instructed his captains. "We are going into Morne."

A wide grin appeared on Brey’s face. "That is a wise choice, Ahma. Our holiness alone will prevail. We have no need of foreign mercenaries."

The Paladin smiled grimly. "You misunderstand, Brey. We are not going in to fight. I require swords to remain in their scabbards."

Tramst had told him that he would know what to do. He hoped he was doing the right thing.


**


Inside the audience chamber of the Royal Palace – the ceiling of which still dripped slowly from the torrential rains of the previous night – Prince Tagur was finally received by King Tiuhan and the remainder of the Small Council. He limped, his arms were burned and painful from the exchange with Rimilin and the Demons outside of the gates, and he was still bloody and bruised from his escape from Hullu’s encampment.

Foide, who had privately hoped for Tagur’s demise, feigned relief at his appearance. The Prince of Einir, who seldom misread others’ motives, scowled briefly.

"So who had the bright idea of employing the Demonist as an ambassador?" He spat sarcastically.

"His Majesty," the Chamberlain replied loftily. "And you should speak with more respect, although we are glad to find you alive and well."

Tagur gave an icy stare. "Foide, shut up." He bowed to the Boy-King. "I fear that you may have made an error of judgement, your Highness.** It is a hard lesson – but you should learn from it. Where is Rimilin now?"

"No longer here," Sihu answered. "The Bishop of Gibilrazen says that he and the Heretic are most likely engaged in some diabolic feud, where they are arguing about who claims the spoils after the world ends."

"Where is that fat oaf, anyway?" Tagur asked irreverently, causing Tiuhan to snicker.

"He has returned to the Temple," Sihu replied with earnest piety. "He left abruptly, and did not explain why."

The Prince grunted. From Eadric’s words, he had an inkling of the reasons for the Bishop’s sudden departure, but felt no urge to share them with the others present. Damned religious nonsense. Why couldn’t people just get by without it?

After an hour of wrangling about how best to deal with the ongoing crisis in Wyre – half a dozen armies in the area, all but their own respective troops of dubious loyalty to each of the magnates present – Attar, the Warden of the North returned to the chamber. His normally taciturn manner had been replaced by something which Tagur perceived to be close to panic.

"Riots have broken out in the Temple Quarter," he panted.

"What now," Foide sighed drily, "another doctrinal dispute?"

"If it is, I’ve never seen anything like it before," Attar replied. "It’s some kind of hysteria. They’re killing each other in the streets. Templars, soldiers who were stationed on the West Wall, old women, toddlers, everyone."

Tagur groaned. The Demonist probably had a hand in this new mischief. And with the Heretic outside of the city, they could hardly draw soldiers away from the walls to contain it. He motioned to Attar, winced in pain as he hurried out of the audience room, and made his way to the tall West Tower of the palace.

Sh*t, he thought as he looked out at the scene. They were butchering each other by the hundred out there, and new fires were starting – their smoke rising to join the smoldering remnants of those which had burned the night before. A lot had happened in a day. And now the Fane itself was burning.

In disbelief, Prince Tagur watched as the Temple’s south transept, wracked by earthquake, wind, torrential rain, and now, fire, teetered and cracked. Immense butresses and pilons snapped like straws, and the edifice collapsed in a ruin, briefly exposing a light in the nave beyond, before it was obscured by smoke and dust.

From inside the Temple, something reached out and gently touched his mind. Tagur suddenly saw. The cosmos melted, and was made whole again in an instant. Moments later, Eadric’s trumpets sounded beyond the city walls.

Tagur turned to Attar. "Let him in," he said. "Before its too late."

The Warden’s jaw dropped. "Your Highness…" he began.

"Do it. Open the South Gate."


**


"It is only a technical violation," Mulissu complained. "I don’t see what all the fuss is about." She lounged in one of the huge leather chairs in Shomei’s study.

Jovol sighed. "If you don’t have the stomach for this, Mulissu…"

"Don’t be so damned condescending. I admire the principle. I agreed to listen to you, didn’t I?" Her memory flashed back to her own fears of assault from Feezuu – although the Ogre’s proposition would have done little to protect her.

"Under much duress," Shomei said snidely. She shifted uncomfortably in her chair, the scars from her exchange with Titivilus still apparent. "Besides, its not as though you will be the one to suffer the consequences of it."

"It is a tedious waste," the Savant answered. "And I still don’t understand why we can’t perform the ritual afterwards. Or why the clauses regarding summoning and wizards assailing other wizards can’t simply be dropped. There will always be extenuating circumstances."

"Not any more," the Ogre replied. "The Injunction will now be watertight."

"Nothing is ever watertight. Mostin won’t like this." Mulissu sighed.

Shomei laughed. "If there are any loopholes, he will find them."

"Mostin has hardly been an exemplar in observing the Injunction," Jovol agreed wrily. "Which is why I have decided to include him. I’d rather have him in on it, than trying to wriggle around it. Besides, we need his input to fuel the spell. I have already sent written copies of the proposal to Waide, Tozinack, Daunton and Hlioth – a quorum is desirable."

"Mostin means well," Mulissu sighed. "But will be reluctant to surrender his sovereignty to an abstraction." A worried look crossed her face. "You’ve made a powerful case, Jovol, but I fear that what you suggest will rip the heart out of magic in Wyre."

"It will merely relocate a certain aspect of it."

"And Hlioth? She is hardly reliable."

"You do not know her as I do. I’ve shown you the Web of Motes."

"It is indecipherable to me," the Witch said, waving her hand in a dismissive gesture. "I must take your word for it. And what happens if you receive a blanket refusal from all of those whom you have asked?" Mulissu probed.

"Then I will Gate in half a dozen Solars and they will help me instead," Jovol grumbled. "One way or another, this will happen."

"Have you decided upon the Enforcer?" Shomei asked. "One of the Akesoli*** could be bound with this spell."

Jovol shook his head. "They are too political," he said. "And to co-opt them would cause too many ripples. But I concur with your reasoning – something Diabolic would seem to fit the bill, but something outside of the established order – I am leaning towards Gihaahia."

"That is certainly a terrifying prospect for potential violators," Shomei nodded.

"An infernal magnate?" Mulissu asked, uninformed about the nuances of the Diabolic hierarchy.

"An Infernal," Shomei replied. "The offspring of Prince Astaroth and the dead Goddess, Cheshne."

"She is not dead," Jovol smiled. "She dreams with the others."

"In any case, Gihaahia is an abhorrence. An atavism from a previous reality."

"Your concept of reality is quaintly rational," Jovol chided.

"And yours is numinous bunkum," Shomei retorted. "But I am not here to argue metaphysics – or transmetaphysics, before you say anything."

Mulissu groaned and looked bored. This was precisely why she had isolated herself for so long. "I will fetch Mostin," she said, and vanished.


**


The Alienist seethed, looking at the huge, carved marble slab.

"You have no right to do this," he snapped.

"I have the power," Jovol replied calmly. "And the foresight. And a responsibility to the future. That is enough."

"And you?" Mostin looked incredulously at both Mulissu and Shomei. "Have you lost your wits? You of all people, Shomei. You live for this. You cannot ban an entire subschool of magic."

"I accept the limitations as part of a larger set of rules, Mostin. Jovol will not move on any of them. Besides, it will only affect those who cannot perform their summonings elsewhere."

"That is precisely why it won’t work," Mostin sighed. "Those who wish to will simply go elsewhere in order to do it, and then order their creatures into Wyre."

Jovol touched the slab. In response to his words, a minute paragraph carved upon the huge tablet glowed, and seemed to grow in size. Luminous runes hung in the air.

33.6(e)…this prohibition extends to the calling or summoning of creatures outside of the excluded area, and their subsequent deployment within it. Such violators will also be subject to the Enforcer.

"Pah!" The Alienist snorted. "What about the didactic implications? To remove summoning from a mage’s repertoire will impact the understanding of magic in general."

"I have the same concern," Mulissu nodded.

"And I am concerned about defense," Mostin said. "What happens if a Wizard is magically attacked, and his or her specialty is conjuration? He can no longer summon creatures to protect him."

Jovol smiled, and touched the tablet. "Observe…"

5.0 No Wizard shall, at any time or in any way, assail another Wizard by magical means…

"That’s pretty radical," Mostin said.

"The theory of summoning is not banned, nor is the practice beyond Wyre’s boundaries. Please, Mostin, do not get stuck on this one point. Read the tablet in its entirety. There are clauses to cover every contingency, and even an appeal clause in the case of possible miscarriage."

"Appeal? Appeal to whom? To you?"

"To the Claviger." Jovol replied.

"What the Hell is the Claviger?" Mostin asked.

"You are looking at it," Jovol said, a wide grin appearing on his huge face, and exposing rows of enormous fangs, "at least, in a manner of speaking. The Claviger inhabits the tablet upon which the Injunction has been scribed."

"The tablet is sapient?" The Alienist asked in disbelief.

"Profoundly so," Jovol nodded. "It can also independently manifest itself. The Enforcer will be bound to the Claviger, and will act as directed by it."

"What is this ‘intelligence?’" Mostin asked. "Where did it originate?"

Jovol laughed. "Dream," he said.

Mostin raised an eyebrow. "What is its order – in the sense of its size, rather than its genus? Its inclination? Its motivations?"

"It is the Claviger," Jovol said simply. "And it has agreed to my suggestion."

"To inhabit this piece of rock? It must be crazy. I am disinclined to trust it."

"Trust is inconsequential," Jovol sighed. "It is not in the nature of the Claviger to manipulate others for its own ends. It does not have an ego or a personality, in the conventional sense. As to its order – deific would be an understatement. It perceives the magical continuum at all times. It will instantly know of any violation."

The Alienist’s jaw dropped. "This is outrageous," he said.

"I told you he wouldn’t like it," Mulissu groaned. "Perhaps we should have asked Jalael and Troap."

"To do what?" Mostin inquired suspiciously.

"To help us bind the Enforcer," Shomei answered.

"And what will the Enforcer be?"

"I am leaning towards Gihaahia at present," Jovol answered.

Mostin wracked his memory, until he recalled the name. The blood drained from his face. "Please wait for a while."

He scanned the tablet minutely for one hour.

"You’re all cracked," he said, and then laughed loudly, as an epiphany struck him. "But count me in. I’ve a feeling you’re going to do it anyway, and if there will be no more summonings, I’d like my last one in Wyre to be a big one."

"I was hoping you’d feel that way," Jovol nodded. "But we are not calling Gihaahia. We will be going to her, in order to bind her."

"That would be less arduous in terms of the magic required," Mostin nodded. "Are co-operative spells a particular specialty of yours, Jovol?" He asked archly.

"They were once," the Ogre nodded, seeing the knowing look upon the Alienist’s face.

"Thought so," Mostin said. "One last thing," he asked, "I was planning on calling two Balors tomorrow…"

"My Web of Motes indicated the possibility," Jovol answered. "If you proceed, you should make sure that you are outside of Wyre, and do not force them to act as your agents within it."

"I assume that extradimensional spaces are not excluded?"

"Of course not," Shomei replied. "You see? It will have little impact on you and I, so long as we exercise prudence."

"When do you propose to bind the Infernal?" Mostin asked.

"Is your highest valence available to you?" Jovol asked.

The Alienist puffed out his cheeks, and nodded.

"Then now is as good a time as any. I will contact Waide and the others. Mulissu?"

The Elementalist agreed, and looked sadly at Jovol. Here was one whom she had barely begun to know, the passing of whose friendship she already lamented. The Ogre had indicated that there was a ninety-six percent chance that he would be dead within two days.

Jovol smiled quietly to himself. His prescience had seldom failed him.


**


Nwm circled overhead, ready to conjure elementals in order to tear down Morne’s South Gate if necessary. Below him, Eadric sat upon Contundor amid three hundred Templars – those of particular holiness and devotion who acted as channels for their deity’s power.

A deity whose proxy was within the Temple walls, Eadric thought to himself.

At that moment, a roaring noise – masonry cracking and falling – echoed across the city and to the gates. In the sky, Nwm screeched at Gheim, and the eagle plummeted downwards, broke its dive, and alighted upon the pommel of Eadric’s saddle.

"Part of the Temple just collapsed," Gheim said in a matter-of-fact way. "It is on fire. There are other fires within. Men, women and children are murdering each other on the streets."

Eadric felt sick, and motioned to Jorde, who bore the horn of the recently burned Hyne around his neck. It rang out, to be quickly followed by several more amongst the Templars.

Perhaps a dozen arrows and bolts issued from the towers above the gate, and clattered off of armour and barding. A rather half-hearted response, Eadric mused to himself. Perhaps the others were being deployed inside the walls. He waited. Within the walls, another horn sounded. Moments later, the gates opened.

The Paladin, half-expecting a charge directed at him from within, braced himself for the assault. Instead, numbers of Morne’s inhabitants surged outwards, carrying children too young to walk, and those few possessions which they felt worth saving. Most simply fled. Others seemed to be randomly killing those attempting to escape, or each other. It was impossible to determine who were the victims, and who the attackers. Who was enchanted, and who was not.

"Apprehend anyone behaving aggressively," Eadric’s voice boomed out. "Knock them out and tie them up. We can decide what to do with them when we’ve subdued them." He prayed that it would be enough. Motioning to Brey, Sercion, Jorde and a dozen others, he rode through the gate and headed for the Temple.

The scene which greeted him on his procession was more barbaric, more obscene, and more painful than anything he had ever before encountered. Mutilated corpses were strewn around. Burned. Impaled. Dismembered. Screams of pain echoed across the dust and smoke-filled streets.

As they proceeded, Eadric recalled the words of Titivilus, his appointed Tempter, at his own insistence that Celestials would not permit something like this to happen: Would they not? Are you confident that you understand the Mind of Oronthon that clearly?

Apparently, Oronthon had permitted it to happen.

He grimaced. The old paradox again. Have I come so far, only to be confronted with that same doubt? Eadric emptied his mind, and allowed his wavering to pass. He recalled the place where all polarities cease, and drew strength from it.

I will have your head for this, Demon.







*I.e. Clerics, Paladins and spellcasting Prestige Classes.

** As a Prince of the Blood, Tagur is not required to address the King by the honorific ‘Majesty’ – he may use ‘Highness’ instead. By doing so he also asserts his precedence over those others present.

***The "Pain-Bringers," a group of nine unique Devils charged with administering Amaimon’s justice. My infernal organization is only loosely based upon official D&D canon – I can include it as an attachment if anyone is interested.
 


Gez

First Post
Re: Fascinating

Pillars of Hercules said:
Also, a simple question. How does one pronounce "Titivilus?"

I am guessing Tish-e-VEEL-us, but that's just a guess based on the pronunciation of the Roman emperor Titian.

"ti" become "shi" only when some vowel is behind.

I'm simply pronouncing it titivilus (all 'i' short 'i', like in live; or like shortened "ee" sounds); but then again I'm French. There's a joke saying that when you read an English word, you don't know how it is pronounced, and when you hear a French word, you don't know how it is written.



Edit: Yay! My post is, with Tleilxu's, one of the only that survived the pruning ! Go me !
 
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Pruned for the last time, ere my powers wane.


AFAIK, its Tit-IV-il-ous. If memory serves, he was originally the medieval patron demon of scribes, printers or calligraphers. Or something.
 


William Ronald

Explorer
Sepulchrave,

I have recently rediscovered Lady Despina's Virtue, and followed the threads to the current update. Thank you for your persistence, hard work, and GREAT story telling.

I am curious as to what lies beyond Wyre, The Thelassine, and the North in your world. Also, is it fair to characterize Eadric's attitude to other deities other than Oronthon to be either false deities or essentially irrelevant to him. (Eadric's great strength, to me, is the ability to look at different viewpoints and to try to determine their worth. This may ultimately be his best defense as he tries to fight temptation.)

Well done!!
 

shilsen

Adventurer
Sepulchrave II said:
Pruned for the last time, ere my powers wane.


AFAIK, its Tit-IV-il-ous. If memory serves, he was originally the medieval patron demon of scribes, printers or calligraphers. Or something.

Actually "Titivilus" is the name of a devil who collected mumbled bits of divine service and took them to hell as evidence against the mumbler. The name is also found in France and Germany in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. "Titinillus" is the earliest form of the name (OED). Shows up as "Tytyvyllys" in the anonymous English dream-vision allegory The Assembly of Gods. He appears as one of Satan's minions in the Towneley Judgment play and as a boasting buffoon in the popular morality play Mankind, both from the mid-fifteenth century.

Behold the powers of Google!
 


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