The Lord Of Wrath

It’s odd, thinking back on it. I never wanted to come to this place – when Bill told us that Runeforge was located on a separate plane, one that no one had ever returned from, and that we may never be able to return from, my first instinct was to run. I couldn’t return to a place like that – a nightmarish pit with no escape. Just like Abaddon. But I couldn’t abandon them, either. Not after everything we’d been through together. Not after everything we’d seen, and knew would come to pass if we didn’t stop the Runelords. They had the power to destroy everything – everyone we knew and loved and care about. Our homes weren’t safe. Varisia isn’t safe.

Home. What was I talking about? I didn’t even have a home. My entire life, I never truly felt like I belonged. The streets of Magnimar, the Balthazar manor, the Rusty Dragon in Sandpoint. Even the temple of Sarenrae in Magnimar. All of them were welcoming, at one point or another, but none of them were home. I’ve never had a home.

Until now.

How very odd that I would feel most welcome, most at home, in the halls of this place that I dreaded coming to just days ago. But it’s true; even upon first setting foot in this particular passage, that once belonged to Alaznist – even more ironic, as she was the one responsible for the curse that tormented me for so long – I felt a certain…affinity. Like I belonged here. Now that we – I – have defeated the previous keeper of this hall, the feeling has only grown stronger. This is my home.

It’s not just a sense of belonging, however. Something else happened when I struck the evoker down. I felt a power flow through me, one I had never experienced before. A peculiar rune faded from the previous keeper’s forehead, and appeared on mine, and the warriors who live here and had previously stood against us now call me ‘lord’ – hah! It is apparently some inherited power and title that is passed from one champion to the next when the previous is defeated in combat, and the warriors who defend these halls swear fealty to whomever bears it. Xander said it seemed similar to what happened to him when he read the cursed book and was taken by the soul of Zutha.

I admit, I am torn. I feel there is an incredible amount of potential from this power…but at what cost? Xander nearly lost his body, mind, and soul when he tried to take Zutha’s power, and I was the most adamant among us that he should have asked us for help rather than taking on such a great burden himself. The others are wary and worried of this newfound power I have inherited, perhaps rightly so. But at the same time, this is not a Runelord’s soul that has possessed me, as happened to Xander. I don’t fully understand what I can do with this power – I think Bill could help me, if he would but try, but again he is reluctant and I am hesitant to experiment on my own, with as little knowledge of the arcane arts that I have.

I can’t help but feel that this power could be used for good, though. The summoning circle that the evoker used…it supposedly has never been used to summon anything other than demons and other terrible creatures of evil. But has anyone ever tried? Rune magic, or sin magic, or whatever it’s called that these Runelords wield, was born from something better, something good and pure and virtuous. The Runelords corrupted it, but could we not reverse the effect so that the magic could be powered by righteousness once more? It may be a vain attempt, but we will never know unless we try, and we may not be able to fight against the Runelords on their level unless we have magic as strong as their’s.

The Entourage of Blood. Osanna’s Journal Part 23.

I thought, for a change, that I would write a bit about her father’s side of the family and give you a bit of insight about where and who she came from.  And, perhaps, where she gets some of her personality from.  You hear mainly from her father and uncle, but also a bit from her eldest brother.  I’ve italicized the words in Arabic in order to simulate the Kellid language in the Pathfinder world.  Enjoy.

 -Derrick

 

The entourage of blood-covered men and women enter through the flaps of the palatial tent situated on the highest dune overlooking the site of the evening’s carnage.  The servants scurry about helping the Khalif, his sons, and his closest advisors out of their gore-encrusted armor and set out bowls of warm water mixed with lemon and clean linen cloth.  “Thank you.  Leave us.”  The servants bow reverently, and then take their leave as instructed.  The entourage takes seats about the large, ornate table inlaid with a standard of a gold and sapphire angelic ankh set upon a larger background of platinum crossed sabers.  The Khalif cleans himself and his scimitar in silence to his satisfaction, and then finally sits upon a large well-cushioned chair. He sighs heavily.

“Father, why do you wear that troubled face?  Five and forty worshippers of the blasphemous rough beast have we slain today!  And we saved many men, women, and halfling slaves from a fate of shackles.  They would have been put into cages until they would have been spitted and roasted.”  He throws many blood-caked unholy symbols of Rovagug onto the standard set into the middle of the table.  “In victories past, I have seen my father smile and light the bonfire himself for the victory dances.  But not this night?”

“No, Bashir, not this night.  It is true that we have done Her work and Qadira’s work this night, and I again am reminded of how bountiful of a gift you all are to me.”  The room smiles and his sons and generals raise glasses to him in praise.  “But tonight, I find myself weary and with much to reflect upon.  Take your leave to celebrate and prepare the dead for transport back to the capital for their final rites and journey.  Bashir, select a warrior that is worthy and bid him or her to light the bonfire in my name.  Celebrate Sarenrae, victory for Qadira, and each other.”

They all collectively rise, bow, and exit the tent to leave the Khalif alone with his thoughts.  For a while, he thumbs through the pages of dispatches left for him and finds a letter sent to him by his only daughter, Osanna.  He smiles and chuckles to himself as he reads the letter, then rolls it up and stashes it away.

“Of course you would find trouble, Jawhara.”

“Ah.  You have heard from your estranged daughter, then?  What tidings from the west?”

“Mas’ud.  I didn’t hear you come in, brother.  How is it you always seem to know what I’m about?  And why didn’t you announce yourself?”

“I’m your brother.  Do I need a reason to annoy you?  Besides that, you didn’t appointment me as your High Vizier because of my lack of deductive reasoning skills.”

“I did so because I am Khalif, and I appoint who I wish….and because you’re a skilled wizard.  Why are you here?  I recall you wanting to stay behind when we left for this place.  Did you leave immediately after our departure from the capitol?”

“Do you think that I would risk saddle sores and fleas, brother?  No.  I am a wizard.  I do not tolerate discomfort for any reason.  I came here to congratulate you and your dervishes on your sound victory today.”

The Khalif waits.

“And because I thought that you might like a report on your bastard’s most current goings on, as you requested.”

“I recall telling you to use her name when you refer to her, Mas’ud.  Do so.  I do not care to hear you using that label to remind me of my error.  And I remind you that my actions were the error, not her existence.”

Mas’ud bows.  “As you will, Khalif.  Your wayward Ameerah and her menagerie gallivanted off into the northernmost mountains of Varisia, far away from this Magnimar where she’s built her shining church to the Dawnflower in the city’s cesspool.”

“Cesspool, hmm?  You always did have a flair for the dramatic.”

“I used the word correctly, brother.  The scrying shows me much.  Vagrants, orphans, criminals, filth.  Your daughter built Her temple in that place.  By the gods, she’s one of the Dawnflower’s shining servants and she has the blood of our long and esteemed lineage within her.  And she does this?  She mocks our family.”

The Khalif laughs.

“She mocks you brother, for certain, for none other is as egregiously angered by her decisions.  Tell me, brother, did it ever occur to you that I had her sent away on a pilgrimage so that she wouldn’t grow up to be like you?”

Mas’ud’s face hardens a bit, and he falls silent.

“Now, High Vizier, tell me of what I truly wish to hear.  Exploits.  Nuances.  Quirks.  These…people…that she travels with.  What of the goblin?”

“It isn’t a goblin, Khalif, and I’ve not seen it for a short time now.  Another has joined her coterie in its place.  Some short Varisian that dresses in their odd fashion. He seems to be quite taken with her.  The rest of them seem to be as they always are…though, she’s grown increasingly hostile towards that fat lump of a wizard that follows along with them.”

“It’s hard to imagine a man not being taken with her.  She’s unique.  Wars have been started for less.  Keep an eye on the wizard and this newcomer.  If something is off, I trust that your scrutiny will sort it out.  What of the other tiefling?”

“The druid?  She’s unpredictable, but they seem to be in good spirits with one another.  The other woman has a velociraptor that runs about with her.  The lizard is quite taken with our Ameerah.  It’s quite the spectacle to watch her feed the beast.”

“Our?”

“She is…an anomaly, true, and I don’t approve of some of her choices. But she is my blood as well, and you would do well not confuse my criticism for a lack of compassion.”

“I am happy to hear you say it out loud.  Where are they now?  You spoke of mountains?”

“Northern Varisia.  I saw them fight an old white dragon at a circle of statues.  I know nothing of their significance, but they disappeared shortly afterwards.”

“And…she was with them?”

“Yes.  She put an arrow through the beast’s skull.  I’m curious.  Did you teach her how to shoot a bow?”

“HA!” 

The Khalif raps his hand soundly on his chair’s armHe then composes himself and clears his throat.

“No.  You know well that I’ve never been gifted with the bow.  Perhaps they taught her at the temple during her training.”

“Mmm.  Well…there’s my report, as it were.  I’ll take my leave and let you rest.”

“Mas’ud.  Thank you for your visit.  Continue to scry.  If she doesn’t reappear soon, then I’ll need you to figure out where she is and return her.”

“Yes of course, brother. What of the others?”

“The others too, if you can. She would be wroth with us if we did otherwise.”

“Even the Asmodean?”

“I am happy to let him meet his end, but I would bid you to query her prior to making that choice.  There may be more going on in that rag-tag band than we realize.”

“As you say, Khalif.”

Random Encounter, pt 2

A few hours later, after they had dropped the rest of the supplies off at Heidmarch Manor, the sisters made their way back through the streets of Magnimar. It was nearing dusk as they entered the Underbridge district, a dark, seedy area of the city that was located under the Irespan, the remains of a gigantic bridge that covered part of the city and stretched out into the Varisian Gulf. The shadow of the Giant’s Bridge left the Underbridge district in perpetual darkness, even during the day, and Kiroko shivered as she and Yomiko left the hustle and bustle of the Bazaar of Sails behind and crossed under the Irespan.

“This place is disgusting,” Yomiko said, glancing around as the two of them made their way further into the derelict district. Debris and refuse littered the streets, and the two sisters paused as a rat scurried across their path in front of them. “This is certainly no place for a lady of my standing. How long do we have to stay here?”

“Until we find this temple, I suppose,” Kiroko replied, glancing around cautiously. She hadn’t seen anyone else since they had entered the shadowy district, and the lack of anyone else’s presence made her uncomfortable.

“Well, where is it?”

“I don’t know, but it can’t be too hard to find a temple of a goddess of sunlight in a place like this.” Continue reading