Such wonders I have seen. I have been given much to contemplate.
My Goddess has granted me a miracle, and has allowed me to witness another. I do not claim to understand the full significance of this, but as we descended the temple, there was a great earthquake, and the stairs rose up of their own accord. When the earth stopped trembling, the temple resembled exactly the one in Haven. Immediately, we were surrounded by a multitude of joyful beings, each marveling at the wonder they had seen, reveling in the love of the gods, and demanding to know who we were, and by what means we had brought these blessings upon them.
Throughout this quest, I have felt very strongly that we should mute our presence, for only in hiding one’s identity can one truly be known. This has not stopped certain members of our party from announcing our presence, and this occasion was no exception, for some of my companions loudly proclaimed who we were, and what we were about.
They created so much commotion that presently, we received a summons from the King. As we journeyed to the palace, we were confronted by what appeared to be a short, gaunt wolfen, but with slavering jaws and empty, glowing eyes. With a horrible voice, it greeted us in the name of Anubis, and bid us give up our quest. In Set’s name, it complimented me, and I felt as if a great, invisible hand passed through my soul. Immediately, I took up my axe, and made to strike this creature down, but it touched an amulet at its bosom and disappeared with something akin to alarm in its eyes.
When we met with the King, he greeted us in the name of Isis, saying She had visited him and had given him certain instructions to prepare for our arrival. He invited us to share a meal with him, and as we proceeded to the dining room, we discussed the events that had brought us to him. I told him about the creature that confronted us, and was compelled to share with him the sad history of my corruption at the hands of the wicked. To my surprise, he reacted with great fear at the mere mention of evil, genuflecting in a manner that reminded me greatly of the peasants of Williamshire attempting to ward off the evil eye.
Strange behavior for a king.
As we supped, the King presented the Dwarf with a sword. By the efforts of Gavin and Chip and, surprisingly, the Centaur’s lance, we soon learned that the sword was Avramson’s personal weapon, and with it he had wrought many mighty deeds upon the history of his land. Our discussion took on broader topics, and we began to ask about the nature of Karma’s lance, when a messenger presented himself to the King. With amusement, the Avramson bade us follow him to the roof, where he intended to introduce us to beings of particular eminence.
As we mounted the stairs, I took advantage of the opportunity to tell the King about my quest for Cyclopean lightning arrows, and to ask if Isis had left me any guidance. Hoping for a boon, I also asked if he had any, or knew where I could find some. Again he genuflected, to my astonishment, and told me that, while there were some few Cyclops living in the Algor Mountains here in the Wolfen Empire, he couldn’t really tell me much about them, and, in fact, Isis hadn’t mentioned the subject at all.
Why didn’t The Goddess tell him about my other quest? Why do I feel as if this quest rests solely on my shoulders? At least I’m making progress. Perhaps I can convince the group to go visit the Cyclops on our way back to retrieve the ship.
On the roof, we were met with a surprise: Avramson’s august visitors were none other than Greldarr’s aunt, High Snow, and her protector, Stone Mountain. Greldarr was clearly surprised and overjoyed to see his aunt, and they spent some few moments renewing their relationships.
Presently, talk turned to the creature, this Alu Demon, who confronted us as we left the temple. Much discussion was made over the fact that this demon serves one known as Charun the Cruel, who reigns in some place called Hades.
I have heard of demons, but I have never seen one before. It is said that their nature makes them vulnerable to holy objects. I wonder if this is true.
We wondered greatly why his minions were doing the will of Anubis, so much so that both Chip and King Avramson called for magic pigeons, and, following some moments of quiet discussion, sent inquiring missives to destinations unknown. Our conversation must have been very strenuous work, for immediately after the birds were released, words turned to alcohol, and what I have come to recognize as the obligatory drinking contest. To my surprise, King Avramson entered the fray.
Clearly, Isis also failed to mention Chip’s capacity for drink. I made an easy 100 gold that night by declining to partake of the others’ debauchery.
We left early the next morning, to the horror of those still feeling the effects of the night before. We traveled easily and without interruption, and after a couple days, we reached the city of Tolosonya, where we took rooms at the local inn.
That night, I awoke to what sounded like someone scratching at my door. I was reaching for my axe when I heard Rell scream.
Clearly, something evil was afoot.
I threw open my door, and was greeted by the slavering jaws of another Alu Demon. It lunged at me, but was quickly felled by Thor-ak’s might. Hearing more screams, I looked down the hall and saw more Alu Demons. I ran towards the nearest demon, brandishing my axe, but it disappeared before I could strike. It soon became clear that the demons had intended to ambush us all as we slept, but we captured two of them, and drove the rest off.
We split into two groups so we could interrogate them simultaneously.
I took our demon’s amulet first thing so it couldn’t get away from us, as Tyvernos and Rell each tried to convince the demon to answer our questions. Snarling its refusal, it began to struggle in an attempt to gain its freedom. When it was subdued, I handed my water skin to the priest, and asked him to bless the contents, which I then poured on the demon’s foot.
The results were dramatic, and more than a little disgusting.
The demon immediately signaled its desire to answer whatever questions we put to it.
I asked what business its master had with Anubis, which it didn’t know.
I asked how they had found us. It replied that they were excellent trackers.
I asked how we could prevent them from tracking us, and it again became belligerent, and refused to answer.
It became so violent that Greldarr killed it before I had the chance to ask it about its amulet. If this amulet does what I think it does, it will figure large in my plans for the future.
Taking care not to touch the amulet itself, I began to examine my prize. It was a metallic, golden-hued, inverted ankh, suspended from a length of cord. I had seen demons touch it just before they disappeared, which suggested it was enchanted by some means to take its wearer from place to place. But where did it go? Could it take one anywhere one wanted to go? And how many times? Could Dark Magics be used to follow it from hither to yon?
Unfortunately, I had already reached the limits of my knowledge of magics, and abilities to perceive arcane secrets.
I asked the others for help determining my amulet’s properties. They told me that it teleports its wearer to Çynopolis, where Anubis sits in judgement of the Dead, and it can’t be traced.
Better and better.
I followed Gavin to his room, to ask him about those who had used it before. I needed to know more about it, and thought perhaps the actions of its former master could give me more insight into its properties.
To my horror, Gavin reached out and touched the amulet, and disappeared.
The amulet remained, but Gavin had gone, presumably to Çynopolis.
I ran and gathered the others, so we could formulate a plan for his rescue. To my astonishment, everyone began arguing.
I should have known that this group was incapable of making a quick decision.
Chip announced he would go alone, because he had a plan that just might work.
Tyvernos insisted that we give him up for dead. There was no point in us putting ourselves in harm’s way on Gavin’s account.
Rell also insisted that Gavin had to be dead by now, but said that if anyone went, we should all go. Regardless, Gavin was dead, and we should mourn his loss and go on our merry way.
Angry and disgusted, I knew that I couldn’t leave Gavin to a fate unknown. It was my fault he was in trouble, and I was going to face it with him regardless of the consequences. I held Thor-ak out to the Geldarr, and asked him to bless it. As I did so, Rell made a wild grab for my amulet. I swung my arm away from him, and towards Chip, who saw his opportunity, and took it.
Both Chip and my amulet disappeared.
White-hot fury filled my brain. My grip tightened around my axe; in my mind’s eye, I saw myself beating Rell senseless with the flat of Thor-ak’s blade.
Quickly, I spun away from the little two-faced bastard before I delivered to him the beating he so richly deserved. Tyvernos had proven himself to be untrustworthy from the start, but Rell’s betrayal was inexcusable. He had fought with us, drank with us, bled with us. We were a family. At least, I thought we were.
If he has so little love for us, his brothers-in-arms; so little compassion for those in dire need…
My shoulders started to itch, and as I moved to scratch them, my gaze fell on Tyvernos.
I spat at his feet just as a dwarf, wearing an amulet just like the one Chip stole from me, suddenly appeared in the room. Quickly, I moved to help tie him up, in a bid to reach his amulet, but Rell’s hand came in out of nowhere, and snatched it up.
So much for all of us going together. Now three of us were gone, and those bastards didn’t leave a way for the rest of us to follow.
I had killed one of those demons. Its amulet was still in place!
As I turned on my heel and strode for the door, there was a sudden commotion behind me.
I turned, and saw Chip, Gavin, and Rell lying on the floor, having landed on top of our dwarf prisoner, whose eyes were bugging out in a manner that might have struck me as comical, if it weren’t for the sourness of my present disposition.
I moved toward Chip, hoping to reclaim my amulet, but it melted away into nothingness.
Dammit! I needed that!
I looked at Rell, but his had gone as well.
Immediately, I sought out the body of the demon I killed earlier, that I might claim its amulet, but my hopes were in vain.
Thinking dark thoughts, and muttering dark words, I walked back to my room.
Posted by Cava on the 9th day of Thoth, in the 340th year of the Dominion.
Picture by charred