Title: Exorcising the Demons of Teras
Date: Mid Trilan, 1332 Avard
Synopsis: The ME team find that demon worship was common in the werewolves, and then have to exorcise the demons from the duke's children.
Mid-morning of the 17th of Trilan, 1332 Avard.
The ritual to remove the curse of lycanthropy took an hour to complete. While Aeron read the ritual and performed the rites over the vast numbers of those infected with the curse, Arkhan interviewed werewolves and Corrin interviewed the children the werewolves had captured. The orcs maintained security, while the giant spider-like silik called Demon webbed down the mass of werewolves to prevent their escape.
Corrin learned from the elven children and the few adults that had been prisoners with the children, that they had all gone through hell. The basement of the manor was where they had lost fingers, presumably to be sent to Duke Therinol Navaillo to keep him in line. Only three of the elven children were actually heirs to Teras; the others were cousins and other children of the elves of Terrace, for whom the human city had been named.
Amreth the Gaunt was one of the alpha werewolves that was down. Interrogations with several of the werewolves revealed that they were all thugs or rapists, thieves or murderers. The lure of power as werewolves had been an easy step for all of them, and they had cared not if they ate anyone who got in their way. Arkhan was prepared to kill all the werewolves.
Occasionally, bits of battle raged in the distance. Long minutes would go by, and then a slender, twisting column of fiery wrath would descend from the heavens, and then disappear. Seconds would pass before the boom of the strike would reach their ears. Occasional bursts and bits of multicolored light would shine through the fog that was lifting, indicating mages battling elsewhere in Teras.
Corrin caught one of the children staring oddly at the Lok Giran dwarf whom was their liaison. The dwarf functioned mainly to let them know how the battle was going, and to relay information to the Baron-and-the-Bishop. The elven child, however, asked Corrin where in his voluminous beard the missing whiskers were. A bit more conversation drew out that the children knew some whiskers had been stolen from the dwarves. Corrin also learned of a secret location where things were hidden, in the basement of Count Kaleus' manor. The fourth torch from the left had been a place where such things as the whiskers of the dwarves had been hidden.
At last, the incantation was complete, and there was a deep, soundless thunder as the power of Yatindar flowed through Captain Aeron's longsword and out. Werewolves still in half-man and half-wolf form with long snouts and fur, long teeth and claws, began to revert to human form. The orcs that had been fighting against the lycanthropy relaxed, no longer feeling the curse flowing through their veins.
A blue light appeared over the by then sunlit field. The last of the fog had burned away in the mid-morning light, and only the humidity remained of the previous night's storm. The blue light expanded into a large, vertical circle rimmed in blue and filled with darkness. Out of the Eye of Galgiran stormed the Baron-and-the-Bishop and dozens of his dwarven priest-warriors.
The Baron-and-the-Bishop heard the ME team out, and said that Duke Therinol's children were needed at the Ducal Keep. The duke was refusing to surrender or stop fighting until he saw his children. The liaison had already informed the Baron-and-the-Bishop of Amreth's capture, but Amreth was comatose from the purple powder grenade.
Baron-and-the-Bishop Nodrom 'Dwarfendale' Fistforger quoted from the book of Galgiran, asking the Soul Forger to perform the ritual of Strontium the Mad. Amreth's breath shuddered, and was gone. The Soul Forger took back the soul of Amreth, and placed it in his forge, reworking the soul so that Amreth knew of his evil. Amreth took a deep breath as his soul was returned, knowing he would be put to death, knowing that his last moments on earth would be a heaven compared to what was to come. Amreth the Gaunt had seen the hell that awaited him, and was aware of all he had done in a way that only the gods-touched can ever be.
The Baron-and-the-Bishop dragged Amreth with him, and took the children to help Duke Therinol see that the battle was over. Another Eye of Galgiran opened, and most of the dwarven troop went through, save a detachment to care for the prisoners that would most likely be scheduled for execution.
Arkhan detailed his troop to remain behind and help the dwarves deal with the former werewolves. The rest of the orcish troops would go with the team to the Count's Manor to see if the whiskers were there, and to look for clues to Chert Stonehand.
Before they could move out, though, the senior orc – the one with exposed skull bone, and green skin so dark it was almost black – approached Arkhan. The dark orc handed Arkhan a gift that the dragonborn had earned. When the Third Crusades had tried to wipe out the orc shamans and their magic users, some of the crusaders had left items behind. One of them was something the dark orc's family had kept for many years.
The item was a brass and quartz compass with a dozen different dragon carvings around the bevel. The compass unerringly pointed towards north, but had the ability to point in the direction of the nearest dragon, once per day. Arkhan tested the dragon compass, and it pointed ten degrees east of north. The dragonborn was speechless, but the grizzled dark orc felt Arkhan had earned the dragon compass. It had once led the dragon slayers to dragons, but would do so no longer.
The team then moved out with their escort of orcs, and found no werewolves at the manor. Rather than take the front, they decided to take the back door, armed as they were with the chamberlain's keys.
The inside of the manor stank like wet dog. There was fur everywhere, built up along the edges of the walls several handspans thick. Gnawed-upon bones were everywhere, and the claws of the werewolves had torn up most everything.
The basement stairs were just beyond the kitchen, and Arkhan led the way, the orc chamberlain right behind him giving directions. Arkhan, Corrin, and Greff stepped down onto the floor of the basement before Aeron could give them light. With a quick prayer to the God of Justice, blue-white light dominated the room. And the circle of runes into which three of the team had stepped.
Captain Aeron realized that the circle was a trap, dedicated to the Demon God, Argunas. Anyone who stepped outside of the circle without offering prayers to Argunas, would summon a demon larger than the basement, resulting in the destruction of the manor and everyone in it. Aeron found the passage he was looking for in his travel book of Yatindar, and set about undoing the prayers of whomever had set the trap.
Green light traced itself backwards in time, undoing the runes carved into the cobbled floor of the damp basement. The team was free to step outside of the rune trap.
One corner of the basement had small tables, where the children had been tortured. Their little bodies had had a myriad of wounds and welts, including the fang marks of some giant snake or vampire – or demon. Another corner of the room held the bones of men, elves, dwarves, cows, cats, and many other species. Along one wall were dog cages, wherein the children and their caretakers had been held.
Corrin checked the space the children had spoken of, and found a brick that had concealed a hidey hole. The hidey hole was empty. Nearby, Arkhan showed them where the Eye of Galgiran had been used several times. Chert had been there, and perhaps already retrieved the beard hairs.
Upstairs, there was a commotion. The orcs had found a concealed room behind a bookcase, and inside, a dwarf. The team spoke with the dwarf, and found that he had an interesting story. With the dwarf had been a chest full of silver pieces, and underneath the silver, throwing daggers also of silver. Aeron, seeing the discipline of the orcs, understood that the orcs were returning to their military training and discipline.
Captain Aeron found the biggest orc he could, one with a bent ear, and ordered him to take charge of the remaining orcs. Aeron detailed orcs to obtain shovels, hammers, and other tools to destroy the symbol in the basement, and begin cleaning the manor. Another detail was sent to safeguard the manor, while others were sent to scour the manor from top to bottom of anything of interest in their search.
Arkhan and Corrin interrogated the dwarf, teasing out his whole story and his part in the whole mess. The dwarf's name was Gril Bandylegs – a dwarf with an orc's first name. Gril was a Bandylegs in name only, having become one of the worst things a dwarf could become: a tomb robber. Gril had broken into the ruins of Gil Hala, and found something walled off from the rest of the ruins. Gril broke into the walled-off room, only to discover a statue to Argunas, the Demon God. Gril's mount, a snowfell wolf, became possessed by a demon – and became the source of the werewolf curse. Gril himself was cursed to be unable to touch silver without it burning him, and all his metal and gold was turned into silver coins by Argunas.
Gril himself was possessed of a demon. It was the demon, Rathaya, who had done terrible things to the elf children. When the demon took over, Gril was transformed, and no longer a dwarf, but a hideous thing that did terrible things. Gril had been forced to watch all the awful acts Rathaya the demon had done.
And it was the possessed snowfell wolf that had made contact with Chert Stonehand. Gril had explored Gil Hala, and he could make maps to show the team where the statue of Argunas was – and perhaps, where Chert was to be found.
Time was of the essence, but the team had a more immediate problem. If Gril was possessed, then they needed the resources of a temple to remove the curse. They moved out of the manor, and moved towards the city and its temples. The nearest was the Temple of Habrem, Goddess of Music, who watched over prostitutes, accountants, and bards. It was not the team's first choice, as far as deity's went, but it was the closest.
They moved out at a double time, with Gril Bandylegs coccooned up in case the demon possessed him. The ME team moved towards town across the grassy field, the orcs arrayed on either side and ahead.
Bells began to toll from the direction of the Ducal Manor. The bells called out 'go to temple', and other bells throughout the city began to echo the peel. 'Go to temple' was the equivalent of 'all clear', telling the citizens that the danger had passed and they could get more information on what happened from their priests. Much as the Baron-and-the-Bishop's liaison had been able to communicate across distances to coordinate the battle, so could the Circle of Priests in each town communicate with one another when needed.
The streets began to fill with people, although many were hesitant about believing the 'all clear' when there were over a hundred armed orcs covered in blood, along with the mounted ME team, moving through the streets at a fast pace. The bent-eared orc leader pushed orcs ahead to help clear a path for the fast-moving team.
The Singing Gnoll, designed to seat fifty comfortably, was already packed with close to a hundred people, with more building up on the immaculate grounds. The orcs didn't care, and made a path to the inside. People were aghast at the behavior of the team in pushing forward, and were near towards panic and flight.
Mother Evale Contrain, a handsome woman in her late forties, stopped the rest of the team at the entrance. Her gold and orange robes shimmered of silk, but her eyes were hard as agates. Arkhan's holbraces made her decision for her – a paladin was difficult to second guess, and if an exorcism was called for, then her temple was needed.
A shimmering cloth of golden and orange silk was draped over Gril, who was placed on the altar at the feet of the twelve foot tall marble statue of Habrem. Mother Evale called for her chorus, and told them to sing from the eighteenth chapter of Saint Bereiva, She Who Sung the Darkness Back. The choir's words served to amplify the power of the priestess – and then her entire congregation began to join in, many singing the words from memory, others following along.
The people inside the temple were half on edge, not knowing what was happening or why so many smelly orcs, covered in blood, were so close. But they could clearly hear the voice of their priestess, unafraid, challenging the dwarf upon the altar. The dwarf's eyes glowed green, and the dwarf writhed against the spindly silk sheet that seemed as solid as mithril. And then the statue of Habrem reached down and placed its hands on the sheet and on the figure on the altar. There was a flash of golden-orange light, and everyone was blinded for a moment.
The statue stood as it had, before. Everyone wondered if they had only imagined the statue moving. In the silence, Mother Evale pulled the silken sheet back and the dwarf was free of possession. Mother Evale told the team (and the congregation, because of the acoustics) that the dwarf had been possessed by a demon lord whose powers were great.
Corrin asked into the silence whether everyone near the demon summoning circle there in the basement of the count's manor would be at risk, and Mother Evale said 'yes'. The team realized that the children of the duke were at risk, as were the others that had been in the basement.
Mother Evale said that she would hold her congregation, to make them available to help save the children, but that the team would have to hurry.
The team and the orcs moved out quickly, making a double-time through the city, clearing anyone who got in their way – city guard, included.
At the Ducal Manor, there were hundreds of dwarves in full plate, twelve foot golems of iron and stone, and scores of city guardsmen, along with quite a few strangers in robes or odd garments.
Captain Aeron and Arkhan asked for the duke's children, but an imperious guardsman thought his rank was worth more than some outsider from Chasadan and his armed orcs – which the guardsman ordered to stand down and relinquish their weapons. The orcs bristled, and so did the ME team. They knew that the duke's children were in trouble, and some officious guardsman who sat on his ass or hid while the werewolves were ruling the city, and who suddenly wanted to throw his rank around… Greff was ready to knock the guardsman's head off.
A petite human woman in robes strode forward, a twelve foot iron golem following. She recognized Arkhan's holbraces, and asked the ME team to explain the situation. The moment the little woman understood the seriousness of the situation, she ordered the officious guardsman to stand down, and bolted for the Ducal Manor.
From the array of dwarven forces that had begun to prepare for a fight with the orcs, came the Baron-and-the-Bishop's voice. The team directed their information to him, as well, and soon the dwarves were ready to assist.
The duke himself, children with him, came out moments later. There was no sign of the caregivers for the children, and so dwarves and mages and guardsmen were dispatched to find them. The duke, however, wanted his children exorcised, and quickly.
Duke Therinol rode behind Captain Aeron on his minotaur lizard, while the petite mage rode behind Greff on his horse. The children rode with Corrin, having already become fond of and comfortable with the vegetarian giant spider. The orcs helped clear the way through the city, the city's own guards struggling to stay with them.
When the party arrived at the Singing Gnoll, Corrin wasted little time and crawled over the walls, and then into the temple from above while the children gleefully held on, enjoying the ride. The duke and the rest of the ME team managed to get inside with the help of the orcs, for the temple and its grounds were packed with people.
Mother Evale and her choir and all the congregation were ready. The exorcism took little time with the aid of so large an assist on a ritual. Such was the power of Habrem, that song from so many could augment the goddess' strength. The golden-orange silk cloth easily held the children in place, and it quickly became evident that they had, indeed, been possessed.
The exorcism was over within less than a handspan of time, and the duke was overjoyed. Before all the congregation of the Singing Gnoll, the duke told the ME team that he had their thanks. Should they ever need anything, he was theirs.
There was a golden-green glow from Arkhan, and a fourth holbrace appeared on both his forearms. He had earned the rank of Defender from Xynosalionisis, the God of Memories.
Because of the orcs' involvement in helping the duke's children, the duke declared before everyone that they had earned his respect and admiration, and they had earned their sense of self back. The orcs were truly equal citizens in Teras – and anyone caught telling them otherwise would receive the duke's wrath.
The duke and his children, and their escorts, returned to the Ducal Manor. The team said their thanks and gave their offerings to Habrem, and left the Singing Gnoll.
They went back to the Orchid's Dew – only to find it had been a battleground. Right after the ME team and the orcish troops had left the Orchid's Dew, the werewolves had descended upon the tavern. The werewolves had thought the orcs they found at the Orchid's Dew were the troops the orcs had gathered. The orcs at the Dew had been those unfit for battle, missing limbs, unable to wield weapons, elderly, or too undisciplined to survive in the ogran ranks. The fight had been intense, and the great orc war drums had been destroyed.
Noon of the 17th of Trilan, 1332 Avard.
Dinner was bean and sausage soup, and as always, Sommer did a fine job of cooking.
I forgot to harass the group about how *much* such a mass ritual as lifting the lycanthropy would have cost. The party will likely need to pull out at least a thousand gold pieces worth of donations to the next altar of Yatindar they cross. The duke will take care of their donations to the altars of Habrem. :)
RPG System: Dungeons and Dragons, 4th Edition.
All characters have 43,750XP (13th level).
You forget how much shit costs when u are in the heat of the moment. I personally need to do better with keeping up with the gold i take in. I would like to take this post to let Joe know what my plans are with Greff. I was asked the question “ what is Greff's ultimate goal?” It took a second or 2 to answer but what i really want in Joe's world is to be a part of it. Yes, all the characters made become part of the world, but I want more. I don't know if that is being a bit selfish, but how amazing is it to revisit an old character with a new one? Although we have only played with Joe for a year (fucking crazy.. seems like a decade. In a good way of course =p) some of us havent had to chance to meet a life that we created from scratch. I think the best way to be remembered in this beautiful world is to have a focal point in a town or be the head of a movement. When i say focal point, i dont just mean a shop like a tavern or a magic shop, i mean something more. The leader of a specific church in Teras could be an old PC. Hell, a bard PC that only plays in one watering hole in Chasadan could leave its mark, songs that the players named could become the anthem to the working class as the sweat out the hours waiting to hear their favorite song.
I seem to speak just about Greff and what i want, but his legacy is in my hands. Greff has the best of both worlds, in my eyes, to leave a legacy in this world. If Joe runs a campaign without me.. or ross, people will come to Teras and see a town where Orcs walk as free as men. Maybe The Green Fist Tavern will be their favorite place to grab an exotic drink from an elderly green man who still throws out out of line patrons. They might hire on with Meridian Explorations for some quick cash or to make a name for themselves and hear stories of the monk who overcame the odds to rise to the top ranks of the famed Original ME's. That's what i would like to do with Greff. Leave my mark on this world to help other players in the future drift off, if for but a night, the pressure and strains of life.
After the next time we play, the orcs may walk about not as just free men, but as more. And they will owe it all to some bouncer turned bar owner that the next generation of players will *not* want to slap around.
Noob Player: So I try to steal the bar keep's purse. What does he have on him?
DM: Roll Thievery. (secretly rolls Greff's perception)
Noob: I rolled a 25! All right? So what's in his purse? Hell, what's in the register?
DM: The bar keep… (rolls) grapples with you. He hurls you across the room, leaps onto the bar, vaults across the room into a rolling tumble, comes out of it, and uses both hands to hit you so hard you're thrown through the door. Take… (rolls) 78 subdual damage.
Noob: (stares blankly) I'm dead. That's SO bullshit!
DM: “Subdual damage.” Right. You're unconscious. The bar keep looks around and asks, “Who's with this thief? Who? I saw three more of you come in with this punk!” The bar keep's scanning the crowd.
Everyone Else: “We're sneaking out the back.” “I'm hiding in plain sight.” “I hide behind the big orc.” “Who the fuck is this bar keep?” “Jesus Christ, Noob!”
Noob: He's just a freaking bar keep! DM nerfed him to keep me from picking everyone's pocket!
DM: The big orc takes exception to you picking the bar keep's pocket. Now the hurting begins.
Noob: Ohmigod. Wait. The githyanki and the orc are buds? What the hell is going on?
hahahah omg that was incredible. I can see the players reacting that way too!hahahah