Friday, August 8, 2014

A Scolding for the Ages

3:30 P.M - Day 5, Desnus 29, 3042 AP (After Peace)

With the fun over we leaned over that sorry excuse of a warrior. Each of us took turns checking him over and with final agreement that he indeed was dead.  However, Kallista surprised us all. She knelt before him and carefully began removing his armor. We were perplexed. After Kallista unlocked the neck piece for his plate suit and carefully handed the pendant that Thorn sent us after to Maldrake.  She looked us in the eyes and plunged into the knight's throat. Tearing at his neck in reckless gouges her teeth snagged on bits of flesh and muscle.

We picked up our goods and cleaned out what valuables were left to take.  We knew there was just over three and half hours left before our deadline. We reluctantly returned to the master.
How long has she been waiting to do that?
4:30 P.M - Day 5, Desnus 29, 3042 AP (After Peace)
You've returned. Do you have what I seek?

Admittedly we did a bit of procrastinating on returning to the master.  We were worried. We had a nervous tinge in our guts but we mustered the courage and returned to the top level of the mansion. We all walked three abreast down the long elegant hallway to the chamber of Thorn and there he was just sitting looking over his desk.  

Adrastus was just sitting in his study seeming as if he has moved not an inch from where he gave our orders at dusk yesterday. “You’ve returned. Do you have what I seek?” This was the first thing out of his mouth.  Maldrake handed over the pendant and stepped back. The high priest held the trinket and paused as if in deep contemplation. He watched the holy symbol glitter in the light. “A pretty enough thing, yes?” he mused. “This is a holy symbol of Mitra in particular the sort favored by the Knights of the Alerion. Perhaps you already knew that."

We all shifted slightly, not knowing what to expect next. 

Thorn began again. “Remember this symbol. This is the mark of those who destroyed our faith and sought to banish all traces of the worship of our Father from these shores. These, my friends, are your enemies.”

We risked our lives for a token?
Thorn tossed the holy symbol to Maldrake with little regard. Thorn only followed this ungrateful show of appreciation with, “Keep it. It may aid you in disguising yourself.” After Thorn said this he revealed a sickly smile. “You have done well.  Escaping from Branderscar, getting through my trial of the knots, and of course slaughtering Sir Balin." His words tapered off after this and he drifted away.  His demeanor had changed from that of admiration to disappointment to anger. For what seemed like hours he eyed all of us carefully and intently. We wanted to vomit and it was easy to tell this was how ever one felt.
We couldn't look away.

Thorn carried on. “A nervous silence loosens the tongue.”   Thorn then began to circle around all of us. “Yes, a series of great events were accomplished by your hands. But before I am confident that I should allow you to complete your training, I feel as though words need be said.”

Thorn makes a simple gesture ti Tiadora. "Leave us dear Tiadora.  This is a matter best left between the master, Asmodeus, and the newly bounded.” She nodded her head and simply walked out. Thorn whispered in a faint raspy tone “I know eve-ry-thing” and continued on pacing around. He said it just like that, taking clear pauses between each syllable.

Mitra scum.
When we didn't think our situation could get any more worrisome or sadistic, Thorn continued on. “With the exception of one, there has been a very close act of blasphemy against Asmodeus within the last 24 hours.  Perhaps you remember this man?” He then gestured to five slaves in his chamber and they scurried like lap dogs and picked up a beaten young man. He was naked and bruised.  He had carvings that resembled Infernal writing all over his body. His back had the symbol of Asmodeus charred into it. Where his manhood once existed, only a twisted barbed wire in the shape of the holy symbol of Asmodeus remained. As hard as it was to comprehend what we were seeing, it wasn't as hard as trying to look away from Thorn's display.
Thorn reminded, “You remember this man, I know. As I said, I know everything.” He paced around his chamber again.  From here, we can only transcript it. Thorn went on a scathing berate. It begins from here until the end of this entry.

“Before we get to him and your near blasphemy I was to discuss the bounds of your contract. I know you have upheld the Second Loyalty. You have brought me my pendant as I wished. This pleases me greatly. For it is a true sign, of things to come. So yes, the second loyalty, your loyalty to me, has been upheld.”

“The third loyalty has not faltered among any of you. You did not chastise your ogre friend when he recklessly destroyed that valuable obsidian orb. Nor, did you show anger towards the rather fool hardy antics of Grimalkin when he destroyed a fairly high priced piece of silver and gem when he set off a trap. You did none of these things and therefore you have remained true to this loyalty.”

“Many of you fell in the last twenty-four hours and despite this you stayed true to your bound and aided your companions so that you can rise to the challenge and complete the nine knots. By doing so you have upheld this fourth loyalty.”

“This brings me to the final loyalty. The first loyalty you have been bound to, and the weakness all seven of you have displayed. I shall go through them now, for to expose flaws allows strength to make headway.”

“You Stixx, your weakness comes from your need to be indecisive.   You withheld attacks against thine enemy so you would do no harm to others. Why?  Are you not all here for the same purpose: to fight in this crusade for the infernal father?  You all know the oath you took! This does not mean you get to act in the eyes of chaos, but you must show no mercy to your enemies! Even if showing no mercy means your companions must be born again through pain. Do not forget that while you may harm your friends your enemies won’t have anyone to save them when they fall, and you have one another. ”

“You Maldrake have a weakness that is not without irony. You are a cleric of Szuriel, god of war. Yet you kept reserved from going into battle because you are not made for it? How can I expect you to uphold your bounds to the first loyalty if you cannot uphold the bounds to the god you currently worship? If you cannot uphold the views of a weak god like Szuriel in the eyes of Asmodeus, how can I trust you? Be who you were born to be. Be who Szuriel wanted you to be. If you are going to be the champion of war for Asmodeus, then you act like it!

“Now we are on to you Grimalkin and your constant foolishness and stupidity. You waltzed around my nine knots acting as though you knew what you were doing. You put your companions at risk and for what? Was it your Pride? No, you are too foolish to know what pride is. If you want to survive, you need to have Asmodeus in your heart and mind, because some day your friends won’t be here to bring you back from the brink of your idiocy!”

“Stryder, your weakness is not a physical one. I am not sure it is a mental one. For one to have a mental weakness one must acknowledge that they have such a weakness and I am not so sure you do.  You have a way about you. It reminds me of the black dragons of old, so vile and ruthless. You take your shots with no regrets. However, you do so with no direction of the father. You are a sheep who one day may not have his mortal shepherds to guide him around. Let Asmodeus be your leader as he is the only true path to your victory!”

“Urgoen. You do not seem to care about Asmodeus at all. Not in the same sense that you care to worship someone else. No you are consumed with your petty abominations that you are losing sight of your tactfulness. This weakness will be the end of you. You cannot solely rely on a mere creation of energy to get by. You have your own arcana to use and when that cannot aid you; you seem to be above using these weapons given to you. Only when you are in dire straits did you see a need for them. I argue if you saw a need for them sooner, you wouldn’t be in dire straits! Change my Oread, for continuing as you are will be worse than your death.”

“Strumm, your weakness is as real as the gold you wish to possess. It is no secret that you have a weakness for material items. You pick up arrows to save a couple silver pieces. You readily strip the bodies of the long since dead and rotted in hopes for scraps. Even when faced with a contract signed in your own blood you had the audacity to ask what you get out of it! You are thinking like a petty mercenary. I did not choose a mercenary I chose an assassin. Choose Asmodeus and the rewards of your loyalty will out rank any stacks of gold you could hope to possess. "

“Now Kallista, my sweet vixen of hate, your weakness is you’re zealously.  You wanted this man dead and I know why. He’s weak. Being weak is unfortunate. It is not however punishable by death by the great Asmodeus now is it? If simply being weak were enough to invoke the wrath of the father, my hand would be forced to flay you all where you stand. Trust me friends, I could do it and not lose a bit of sleep over it. Recruits at this stage are silver for seven. Asmodeus does not want blind zealots, he wants acolytes of power.” 

He walked back to where the beaten man was now dragged next to his desk.

“Now look at this man. This man’s name is Squire Timeon of Balentyne and despite not knowing his name, you certainly remember him.  After your Ogre friend destroyed my torture device, he inadvertently found him. Here is what is interesting to me. This man, this squire of mitra, was perfectly willing to talk to all of you. He in fact had information that while useless to me, could have been vital to you.  This man had a defiance to speak with you further when he witnessed Kallista’s proud display of her father."

"Why is it, that in a fortress of solitude like mine, a place of refuge I have given to you, a place where I have fed you, gave you drink, gave you healing, gave you rest and respite, a place free from the oppressive ingrates of Taligarde and a place that I have taken great pains to keep of the utmost secrecy that in my secret nine knots of underground testing that the rest of you hide your symbols of the almighty infernal Asmodeus?” 

Then, with no warning, Thorn slammed his fist down on his desk and the entire room seemed to shake.

“That is a weakness, a weakness shown only by six of you. Kallista it warms my heart and clears my mind to see you display our father’s symbol with pride.”

“Now on to this man, this squire of Mitra, is weak and that is clear. While he has an unshakable determination to his worthless god that alone is not enough to warrant death. There are weak followers of all kinds of deities that can be turned. I’ve turned many in my day."

“This man refused to acknowledge something. He didn’t just refuse the second rate gods like Urgotha, or Zon-Kuthon , he refused Asmodeus. For that he certainly should die. However, Strumm allowed him to live and that’s ok. That’s fine. He had information, it wasn’t information I needed, but I can appreciate the need to extract information from someone even if they deserve to die. After all, cruelty is a tool not a pastime. Be ruthless to thy enemy but reward those who serve thee well.”  

Thorn then shivered as though he was controlling his anger and we suppose he was. Then he turned to Strumm.

“You kept this man alive for information and that is commendable. I have to then ask, if you were keeping a devoted worshiper of Mitra the sworn enemy of Asmodeus and a proclaimed and proved person who is in defiance of our infernal lord in my own home, alive for these reasons then WHY IS IT THAT I HAD TO REVIVE HIM!?!?! You let this peon die by the hands of undead that are just waiting to be released from their eternal living death! “

Thorn waved the beaten man away with the slaves and waived us away. 

"Leave me, I will call upon you when I am ready to decide if I should continue your training."

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