Council of Thieves

The Play Begins, from Zarias's POV (Bullet Points)
  • Reshan got the scar taken off by Arael.
  • When he got back, Rin tries to slam Reshan against the wall.
  • Rin held Harley’s sword to Reshan’s throat.
  • “What the FUCK did you do?” screamed Rin.
  • Nisha tried to stop the fight, putting a hand on each of their chests\
  • I positioned myself behind Reshan to back Rin up if needed.
  • “The scar was a sign of trust. You betrayed that trust when you threatened to burn my ticket if I didn’t give you a cut,” responded Reshan.
  • “You do that all the time, you twat,” I said.
  • Nisha succeeds in getting them to separate.
  • We learn that Thessing is playing the role of the Bailiff and Asmodeus.
  • Thessing walks up to Cinder and tells him he’ll make us all pay for what was done to him.
  • After he walks off, Nisha says that Rin and Reshan need to work out their problems so it doesn’t interfere with the play.
  • Nisha makes Rin and Reshan join her in the closet for a private conversation.
  • Naturally, Cinder and Harley are at the door evedropping.
  • Nisha asks Rin why he’s mad about Reshan getting the scar removed.
  • “I don’t tolerate dumbasses, and he’s clearly a moron,” said Rin.
  • “That’s your opinion. It doesn’t mean he is. And he has the right to remove it if he wants,” said Nisha.
  • Rin asks why she’s defending him, and Nisha denies that she is, although Reshan says that she was just to be annoying.
  • “Reshan, why did you get the scar removed? He can’t heal you from a distance, you realize that?” asked Nisha.
  • “He won’t heal me anyway, he said so,” said Reshan.
  • “That was emotion talking, wasn’t it? Nisha asked.
  • “Oh, no. I’m quite calm now. I won’t heal him,” said Rin.
  • They both storm out of the closet leaving Nisha there alone and upset.
  • After she exits the closet, Nisha finds me.
  • “Zarias, I feel that I should tell you about Aroden so that you can do a good job of portraying his follower on stage.”
  • I reluctantly agree.
  • She launches into a long history about Aroden, telling me about his many long histories.
  • She basically asks me to act like a disciple of Aroden on stage so that I can help to spread the light to the people.
    *I tell her the role calls for a bumbling idiot.
  • “I can do bumbling idiot, I don’t think I can do missionary.
  • In a rare moment of clarity, I can tell that Nisha is very disappointed and offended by my response.
  • “Oh, ok,” she says. “I’m going to go practice my lines now.” she walks away quickly.
  • “It’s because I don’t talk good!” I yelled after her.
  • She waves over her shoulder at me. “It’s fine.” It wasn’t.
  • I retreat into the closet to practice for a while.
  • Cinder talks to Melek to get a feel for his opinion of Liberty’s Blade.
  • Melek thinks we’re cool. He doesn’t like mean people like the Bastards of Erebus so he likes what we did. For that matter, he doesn’t like Thessing very much.
  • We get illusions as costumes. Melek is the one who makes them.
  • My costume looks like a bumbling old man with a missing tooth and a balding head.
  • I go to Nisha and say “See what I mean?”
  • She responds “It is actions that speak loudest.”
  • On the fifth day since we temporarily moved into the playhouse, we have a dress rehearsal.
  • Robahl warns us “The people are known for throwing things if you mess up, so don’t.”
  • The performance begins.
  • The crowd is really rowdy at first, but as we continue to perform they get more and more into the play.
  • By the end of the fourth act, there’s wild applause and someone yells “We love you Handerthaan!!” to Cinder.
  • When the play ends, the crowd goes totally wild, screaming and applauding. They throw money and roses at the stage.
  • Backstage, Robahld meets us. There are tears in his eyes. He clapped for us.
  • “By Calestria’s backside, that was amazing. I actually have faith in you guys. Do that again tomorrow and we’ll all be rich.”
    *The next day is the day of the play.
  • Robahld is really happy at first and tells us we’re the best crew he’s ever had.
  • He goes to talk to someone about the trials and comes back to us, looking haunted.
  • “You’re all going to be fine,” he tells us, clearly lying.
  • We get in position to begin the play.
  • When the curtains open, we can see that our whole rebel group is right there, dead center in the front row.
  • Cinder’s “girlfriend” is there with them.
  • Before the play starts, Rin casts Mage armor on him and me using my wand.
  • Thessing is looking nervous and closing his eyes as the Visbaronetess Delour Aulamaxa begins to sing.
  • The first act goes really really well.
  • The crowd cheers at the end of the first act.
  • The second act starts. Larazod is strapped shirtless to a torture table.
  • The rest of us are cuffed kneeling around him.
  • Drovalid comes out on stage. Nisha’s illusion makes her look like a shirtless guy with a bag over his head.
  • As Drovalid says his first line, he drags the whip over Larazod’s chest.
  • The whip, as it turns out, is enchanted to be a Vicious Whip, which damages the wielder and does more damage to the victim
  • Nisha can feel an outside presence forcing her to whip hard to torture us. She could try to resist it but doesn’t, feeling that a little blood will make it look more real.
  • The first time Drovalid tries to hit me, I dodge backwards at the last second, making it look as though the whip had hit me hard enough to knock me on my back when in reality it missed.
  • Another round of torture. As Nisha makes her rounds, I slip my bonds so I can be better prepared to dodge out of the way.
  • She still hits me but the blow isn’t too bad.
  • On the third round of torture, however, she really manages to nail me with that whip, doing some serious damage.
    Rin uses his hexes to heal me, Rin, and Nisha.
  • The second act ends.
  • Backstage, we heal up by drinking potions.
  • The third act starts.
  • In this act Drovalid joins our side and is to start going through the trials with us.
  • When Cinder delivers his lines saying to Drovalid to “Burn with him,” he lights his horns on fire.
  • The “flukes” we’re given as props are actually rotgrubs that burrow agonizingly through one’s skin and make their way to your brain to eat it.
  • We’re supposed to act as though we’re receiving orgasmic pleasure while really in horrid pain.
  • Harley’s character joins us for this section.
  • Tentacles reach out of the ground and grab her, crushing the life out of her.
  • The play says that the tentacles are supposed to be really pleasurable.
  • People begin applying their “flukes.”
  • The tentacles are doing serious damage to Harley, nearly killing her.
  • Rin tries to contact Arael through the scar he gave the man, but is unable to make contact.
  • After Larazod takes out his “fluke,” Harley is released by the large tentacles and dropped to the floor, where smaller tentacles that don’t harm her grab her.
  • Rin uses a hex of illusion to make it look like his “fluke” crawls all the way up to his neck.
  • He is supposed to do an impression of someone and their three wives, so he humps the air excitedly.
  • I whisper through the scar that I have telling Rin to tell Cinder to use his illusion powers on me so I don’t have to put the rotgrub in me.
  • Cinder is able to successfully create the illusion.
  • I spear the bug on my flensing knife and throw it to the ground, Cinder’s illusion helping to make it look real.
  • During the intermission, Arael makes his way backstage to heal people.
  • Since we’ve been friendly to Melek, he allows Arael to come backstage.
  • Arael heals Harley, Reshan, and Nisha, who had taken the most damage.
  • We begin the fourth act.
  • As we say our lines, a massive metal contraption that looks like a monstrous beast is rolled out on stage. It has acid in its belly.
    *End of session
View
The Play - Part 1 (The Rin Files)
The Rin Files

Right now it is intermission. I wanted to give a quick update of how things are progressing so far.

Right before the play I feel the scar that I placed on Rashaan vanish. The only way that could happen would be if he found someone to remove it. What a dumb ass. That scar is the only reason that he has been kept alive up to this point. The next time I saw him I had Steve fly and steal one of Harleys’ swords. He drops it in my hand and I hold the point at Rashaan’s throat. I ask him why he did it. He feels that I betrayed him by asking for money on the ticket that he was selling. I only gave him the same medicine that he has been doing to everyone else. I let him know that I am done healing him. I will never heal him again and if the play doesn’t kill him I very well might.

We are told that we have a dress rehearsal performance that we have to do in front of a crowd. It won’t have all of the murder bits, so that will be nice. It goes really well. The crowds love us. As long as we do this well in the real play hopefully we will live (except for Rashaan) and get a really nice payout.

Now for the play:

Act 1:
Act one went well. There is thankfully no murderous bits in this part. Just lots and lots of talking. This is where it is decided that Larizad will stand trial.
Act 2:
This is where things start to get dicey. For the first trial Drovalid uses a magical whip to try and extract information. We all get attacked with it at the order of Handerthin. It is violent and Drovalid doesn’t hold back. After the act we are all able to go backstage and heal up.
Act 3:
This is where we are supposed to use the flukes. Ilsandra is attacked by tentacles that erupt from the ground. This part isn’t too bad, at least for Zarias and I. We use magic to only make it appear that a worm is moving through us. We didn’t actually insert the worm. Thank god.
Harley is almost killed by the tentacles, but thankfully Ariel is able to heal her after the act.
Intermission.

View
Before the Play (The Rin Files)

It has been busy since the auditions so I don’t have much time to write. We have been rehearsing non stop for the play.

My curse made Thesing run off crying. He didn’t get a part. Hah.

We all received parts. They are as follows:
○ Cinder – Handerthin (Lead Role)
○ Rashaan – Larizad (2nd in charge)
○ Rin – Dentrist (insulter)
○ Zarias – Tiebane (goofy paladin)
○ Nisah – Drovalid (she will need to harm her allies)
○ Harley – Ilsandra

Oh, and Mr Hump likes Nisha. She sadly turned him down saying that she was gay. As if. I feel bad for the guy. He is nice enough. I hope that he can find the right person some day.

View
The Auditions - Part one (Rin Files

After the battle against the bastards of Erebus we take some much needed rest. We spend 4 days away from battle and to ourselves. I spend most of my 4 days making spell scrolls. These should be handy if we get into anymore extremely difficult situation. I am able to make a good stockpile over the 4 days that we have. Zarias and I are able to spend a good amount of time catching up. It is so nice to have him back in my life. It is taking some getting used to having to remember that there is another person in my life again, but I am more happy now than I have been in a long time. When we are together like this I feel a lot more calm than I did during the time that I was along.

Cinder is able to help teach me a new spell called Aggressive Thundercloud. It is pretty awesome. I can’t wait to try it out in the field.

On the 4th day we receive a visitor. Her name is Ailyn Ghontasavos. She is a member of the pathfinder society. She tells us of a weapon that is locked away in the mayor’s Manor that can wipe out all of the shadow beasts in Westcrown once and for all. She wants us to get it. It isn’t going to be easy. We basically have 2 options.

Option 1 – Raid the Mayor’s Mansion in a covert operation, but by doing this we would have to fight our way through all of the magic defenses that are there and any guards that might find us. Not a very good option.

Option 2 – Participate in the Murder Play that is about to be thrown. If we are able to get parts in the play and survive it we would be invited to a 4 day party at the Mayor’s Mansion. They would give us the admission that we need without the need to worry about tripping magic defenses and guards seeing us.

Both plans still kind of suck. They both have a chance for death. What the fuck is the point of a murder play? Like seriously, who thought “Der, I want to do a play where we murder people for real”? What a dumbass. The sad thing is that this will still probably be easier than option 1. It is what we decide to do.

We also receive a chest with a letter stating that it is a gift to us for the work that we have already done for the town. Aww shucks, people like us. The chest has 3 items in it, and damn are they nice.

1: Bracelet of Friends
This bracelet has 4 charms that be attuned to people at any time. The charms can then be used to summon that person from wherever they are. Each charm can be used once.
2: Crown of Blasting: Major (23,760 gold)
Once a day the crown can blast a beam of pure daylight that will do 40 damage to the target
3: Circlet of Persuasion
This gives +3 to all charisma based checks to its wearer

We decide who these would be best kept with. I am given the bracelet. This isn’t something that wants to be used on a whim, but it should help me save lives.

Cinder and I decide that we should try and sell some of the fake expensive wine that we have made. We take it to the local Winery and offer them 3 bottles. The owner has a sip of one of the bottles and agrees to purchase them. We sell them for 1,100 gold each. Not to shabby for some fake wine. We divide the gold between all of us. 550 gold a piece isn’t too bad. We will need to attempt this again.

We have decided a name for our “Play Troop” It is going to be Meepahl Dyphal (Mepaal Defahl). This is Mammon’s demons in Abysall. I came up with it and thought that it was clever.

Today we started the auditions to try and get into the play. We arrive at the theater and make our way to the waiting room. When we enter we see our favorite person. Thesing who-da-what. He doesn’t seem all that happy to see us. We starts insulting us and I decide that this would be a great opportunity to start the sabotage against his audition. I walk towards him and as I do I tell Cinder to step on his foot really hard one I put my hand on his shoulder. I place my hand on Thesing and Cinder smashes his foot. This allows me to cast a scar on Thesing. He asks me what I just did and I say nothing. He will never be able to prove that anything happened to him. Hah, this is going to be good. I go to sit down and have Cinder cause another distraction. While he does this I use my scroll of bestow curse to hinder Thesings Charisma. This should hopefully hurt him in his audition.

It is now time for us to go and audition. We enter the stage. At center stage is a man dressed in a cloak. He dramatically stands and throws his cloak. This must be the judge for the play. I can already tell that I am not going to like him. He has an aura about him that exudes asshole. He asks us to line up. We decide to go from tallest to shortest, starting on the left.

The order:
Cinder
Rashaan
Harley
Zarias
Rin
Nisha

Here is how the auditions proceeded:

Part 1: Larizard
○ Cinder goes first. He isn’t disgusted with Cinder, but he still insults him a bit.
○ Rashaan goes second. He doesn’t seem to like Rashaan’s performance.
○ Harley goes third and seems to get the same results as Rashaan.
○ Zarias preforms. He is nervous, but how he tries to compensate is cute. He uses hand gestures for all of his words. I smile. This is one of the many reasons that I love him. He is told that his performance was adequate.
○ I go next. I cast thunderclouds in the background and hold up Steve. His eyes glow a menacing red.
○ Nisha performs last. She casts a blessing that bathes her in a glowing gold light. She performs well and at the end isn’t insulted.

Part 2: Dentrist (for this part we have to insult the director. It is really my pleasure.
○ Nisha: She sends a volley of insults and does fairly well.
○ Rin: I do one of my favorite insults of all times. It is from a movie called National Lampoon’s Christmas vacation.
▪ You are a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey shit! Hallelujah! Holy shit!
▪ This seems to get good reactions from everyone. I enjoy getting to use this. I get very good reviews on it (all things considered from this rat that is judging us)
○ Zarias: He insults him and his horns grow. The area around him grows dark. He also gets decent reviews on this.
○ Harley: She insults his monocle and career. I like it.
○ Rashaan: Rashaan is a kiss-up. He says that he doesn’t want to insult the judge, but asks to insult Harley instead. He also flirts with the judge (by the way his name is Robahl) The judge says no and fails him on this section.
○ Cinder – Cinder walks forward and starts laughing at Robahl. He lights himself on fire as he starts flinging insults. He does really really well on this section.

View
Bastards of Erebus
Nisha's Perspective

Nisha chose to walk instead of ride inside of Steve on the way back. She did, however, tie up their prisoner and place him in the back. The man was still unconscious, which didn’t bode well for his brain cells. It would be dangerous to leave him behind but she couldn’t bring herself to kill him while he was helpless. The crew begrudgingly agreed and Nisha breathed a sigh of relief that the murderous group hadn’t challenged her. Rin in particular was thirsty for blood, his anger unsated from his near death experience.

When they reached camp she relinquished their prisoner, though she got the sense that Arael wasn’t pleased with her returning with yet another liability. He had changed more than she realized. The ageless elf calmly tended to their wounds, but there was none of the humor or care that had been there before the fall of Aroden.

We have all changed. She reminded herself.

The others gathered around in preparation to depart and she pulled herself to the present. Tonight they would slay a Shadow Beast. Her fingers flexed nervously around her shield as they outlined a basic plan. The Beasts varied in danger from extremely lethal to moderately dangerous. It was a risk to be out past curfew, but Nisha was beginning to trust this rag-tag group of warriors. Begrudgingly she admitted to herself that it hadn’t been the worst of ideas to get in a few practice fights before going up against the Bastards – but only if the children survived.

* * *

Curfew crept over the city with a layer of dusk and they set out into the night. It was quiet. Disturbingly so. Every scuff of a boot or jingle of armor set her on edge, her luminous eyes searching the shadows relentlessly. Carefully they made their way through the town, Nisha taking point with her shield raised and ready. Experience told her what to expect, but as a thick, supernatural darkness descended around them, fear touched her heart. Rin cried out from behind her, then Cinder and she whirled towards the attackers, a cold hard pit forming in her stomach at the sight of three Shadow Beasts standing over her friends.

Their forms flickered and wavered, grotesquely humanoid but utterly wrong in appearance. Their limbs were far too long, and their eyes burned with hatred. One reached out, it’s fingers elongating as it stretched to caress Harley’s cheek.

With a shout, the girl denied it’s touch, blinding light bursting from her skin. Throwing an arm up to protect her eyes, Nisha squinted as she watched two of the three shrivel with a high scream. They collapsed into themselves, withering before her eyes and suddenly orange flame joined the brilliant white light. The flames engulfed the final Shadow Beast and Cinder lowered his hand, exhausted. They had won.

Stepping forward quickly, Nisha assessed the wounded as Zarias swept Rin off of his feet. They were drained, pale and shaking. As if the beasts had leached away their strength with a single touch. Finishing her check on Rin, she turned in time to see Cinder crouched by a puddle of Shadow Beast ooze.

Surely he wouldn’t be dumb enough… Nisha mused, stepping towards the man. Shocked, she watched him poke the puddle, then fall over backwards as the goop drained him once more. Idiot. Dragging the tall man upright, Nisha pulled his arm over her shoulder to help support the weakened caster. “We should head back.”

To her endless relief, they made it back to the hideout with no further attacks. Exhausted and worried about her companions, she tried to focus as Areal insisted on going over the plan of attack against the Bastards of Erebus. He droned on over options, subterfuge, and the benefits of a daytime attack over night. While she knew it was necessary and even prudent, Nisha couldn’t bring her mind into focus. For once, she found herself agreeing with her companions easily before they shuffled off to bed and rest.

Sitting on the edge of her bed, she began the slow and arduous process of removing her armor. Her fingers felt thick and unwieldy against the leather cords. Fumbling with the heavy sheets of metal, she let them drop to the floor in a pile as she strove to not think about the day’s events. She wasn’t proud of herself. The rage that had consumed her was a harsh counter to the serenity she’d trained in, a regression to a primal side of herself that she did not love. Who was she to say who lived and died? Where did her self assurance come from? The pride that she’d displayed, the confidence that her plan was better than the others was poison to the humility she’d grown over the years.

Ashamed, the last of her armor dropped to the floor, and Nisha let her head fall into her hands. Her fingertips brushed through her hair to press against the ivory curve of her horns, a constant reminder of her heritage. Her damned, cursed heritage.

How many lives had been extinguished by her hand? How many would Iomedae approve of? Surrendering to her weakness, Nisha slipped off her bed to her knees, prostrating herself in prayer. Silently she prayed, begging her goddess for guidance and deliverance from the evil she could feel growing inside her.

The moon crept across the sky in a slow arc and finally, Nisha felt something loosen within her chest. Her self doubt, anger and shame evaporated to be replaced with a steady resolve. She was here to protect. Rescue was her mission and Justice was her aim. She would give herself to the cause, and shield her allies through every storm that hell had to throw at them. For it was through service that redemption could be found.

Sleep overcame her as soon as her head touched her pillow, and Nisha found peace in rest.

* * *

It seemed that every morning with Justice’s Blade was accompanied with a dash of chaos. Arguments rose up on every side, everyone having their own opinion and damned well sure that someone would listen to it. Simply glad that everyone had recovered overnight, Nisha marched to the drum of wisdom instead of the tune of pride. Offering her opinion when asked, her only insistence rose when she found out that Tarvi was intending on accompanying them to the Bandits hideout.

Her objection drew a finalizing decision from Areal, who informed the crew that only him, Janiven, Ermola, Larko and Gorvio would come along. They would remain in an abandoned building closeby to provide backup and aid if necessary. The verdict was met with varying levels of enthusiasm, but Nisha only had eyes for Tarvi. The young girl stalked away after throwing her a dirty look and against her better judgement, Nisha followed.

The light was dim inside and Nisha blinked as her sight adjusted. Tarvi sat on a bed, her arms wrapped around herself, her expression one of a teen who’s entire world was against her. It was a look she was certain everyone could identify with. Quietly she approached, hesitating before sitting down next to the girl. The bed creaked under the weight of her armor, gravity drawing Tarvi closer and Nisha salivated suddenly as she realized how vulnerable the young girl was.

Pushing the thought to the back of her mind, she gently drew Tarvi into conversation. The girl’s bitter tone was understandable, but her argument was weak to Nisha’s eyes. She intimated that it was her life and she wanted to use it to help people of this city, but Nisha reminded her of the loss of her mother, and how it would crush her father if Tarvi suffered the same fate. Finally, it was with the promise of training that Tarvi relented. Nisha swore to train her how to fight when she returned, then removed herself from temptations path.

Striding out into the light of morning, she threw herself into the planning, excitement bubbling beneath her skin. It was a good day to fight!

* * *

Anticipation curled in her stomach as they group sauntered confidently up to the front door of the Bastards of Erebus. Part of her was astonished at their audacity. Never would she have formed this plan, but with Cinder’s extraordinary lying talent and Zarias’s connections they might actually be able to pull it off. She glanced from Zarias to Cinder, the latter morphed into a tiefling from the effects of a disguise spell. That man was full of surprises.

She had also been surprised to learn that Zarias had worked for the Bastards, exchanging services for information. A quiet voice within her disapproved of his ‘the ends justify the means’ attitude, but she crushed it easily. The man who walked beside her deserved her respect and she would give it. The world turned in interesting ways, his past now gave them the entrance they needed to save countless lives.

Starting with the children.

Nisha set her face in a scowl, focusing on getting herself in character. I am an angry bad guy. I am an angry bad guy who likes hurting people. Inwardly she knew that Cinder would make so much fun of her if he knew what she was thinking, but she ignored that thought. Instead she jerked on the rope that bound Telarin and Harley. Zarias, Cinder and herself were posing as tieflings bent on joining the Bastards, with these two offered up as an entrance fee while Rashaan posted up to snipe enemies from afar. It was risky, but they didn’t have any other way of getting in during the day without alerting the guards posted at the five guard towers.

The highest priority target was the watchman up in the belltower. If he rang the bell they would be swarmed by Bastards. Peaceful entry was of the utmost importance and Nisha tightened her grip on her shield nervously. Lying wasn’t her forte. In fact, she planned on being as silent as possible through the entire exchange.

As they stepped up to the gate, Nisha felt her confidence in their plan plummet. This was stupid. So stupid. They were screwed. Her lips pressed in a thin line as she listened to the terse tiefling woman interrogate Zarias.

“Halt! State your name and business!”

“It is I, Zarias!” Zarias called with more confidence then Nisha expected. “I have returned with prisoners that Palaveen will want to talk to!”

“Zarias? I’ve never heard of you…” The woman said, her eyes narrowing with suspicion.

“It’s been awhile since I’ve been back.” Zarias replied confidently.

“Present your coin.”

Nonplussed, Zarias paused. “There was no coin when I with the Bastards.”

The tiefling studied him for a moment before grunting distrustingly. “Fine. I’ll go talk to Palaveen.”

It wasn’t the answer they had hoped for, but it was something. Sighing inwardly, Nisha took it upon herself to glare balefully at the guards who were slowly leaving their posts to gather around the gate. It was with a measure of surprise that she realized they were all women. Dismissing the observation from now, she focused on making her face as bandit-y as possible.

Minutes drug on and finally the woman reappeared.

“Well, it seems that Paladeen does know who you are… But he doesn’t have time for you right now. He says come back another time.” She folded her arms with a smirk, as if refusing them entry was giving her personal pleasure.

Smooth as always, Cinder spoke up. “I don’t think you understand, ma’am! You see these prisoners? They have vital information about an attack being planned against the Bastards!”

Nisha’s lips twitched as she tried to cover her astonishment at Cinder’s blatant advertisement of their attack. She had heard that the best lies had some truth worked in, but he was pushing the bounds of sanity. Luckily, the woman turned to him with a measure of skepticism. “Who are you?”

Zarias spoke up. “He is a compatriot of mine.”

“And who is this supposed attack coming from?” she asked with a scoff, glancing to her companions.

“The rebel group, Liberty’s Blade? You may have heard of them. They’ve been raising quite a ruckus as of late.” Cinder supplied and Nisha was forced to turn and glower at Telarin to hide her shock at the man’s daring.

The woman groaned. “I can’t go back and ask him again.”

“Do you really want to be the one to tell Palaveen that you turned us away after you’ve been attacked?” Cinder asked reasonably. “I mean, I wouldn’t want to be you in situation.”

“He’s probably going to hit me, you know that right?”

“Well maybe next time you’ll get all of the information before going to talk to him.” Cinder suggested sardonically.

Rolling her eyes, the woman reluctantly turned and disappeared into the main building. Nisha glanced over at Zarias but couldn’t read what he thought of the situation. So far it wasn’t looking good but if she’d learned anything about her friends so far it was that they were tenacious and surprising.

When she returned, the tiefling was unscathed. Apparently Palaveen had been forgiving.

“Palaveen says you can return tomorrow.” She said firmly, folding her arms in preparation for an argument.

“Tomorrow might be too late!” Cinder protested, but she held fast. In the midst of their fight, Rin’s voice rose in her mind.

“Cover me.”

Turning towards him, she placed her shield between his hands and the guards, pantomiming checking his knots as he began to cast a spell. The woman’s voice slowed and Nisha glanced over at her in time to see her countenance take on a contemplative expression.

“I guess… I could let you in and you could wait until he wasn’t busy…” she decided slowly. The other guard’s jolted in surprise as she began to pull open the gates.

“What? Are you kidding me?” One asked, stepping up to her.

“I think it’s the right call!” She snapped. “Would you want Palaveen’s wrath if they are right?”

A door slammed open and a hulk of a tiefling stepped out into the courtyard. “Why are the gates being opened?” He demanded, his deep voice resounding through the yard. Instinctually Nisha brought her shield up and towards the man. The hairs on the back of her neck rose in primal fear at the demonically twisted beast. He was huge. It was more than his wicked curved claws and ridged horns. It was as if something had taken one of her species and pumped him full of strength and hate until every limb had swollen into an impossible size. She was fairly certain his wrist was the size of her calf.

Determined not to show her fear, she jutted her jaw out and fixed him with a malevolent stare. He paused as he reached the gate, his red eyes fixed on Zarias. “Zarias.” The single word was an acknowledgement, but there was no fondness in his tone.

“Drovono.” Zarias returned coldly. There was no love lost there. The situation was explained within moments and the beast of a tiefling turned a critical eye to their prisoners. Without warning, he punched Telarin, dropping the man like a sack of meat. Enraged, Nisha shifted her weight forward, every protective instinct propelling her to attack but she held herself back. Drovono turned to Harley who paled in fear but Zarias struck before the monster could touch her.

It felt wrong to watch Zarias punch Harley, despite knowing it was act. She collapsed in mock unconsciousness and Drovono relaxed, his erratic temper temporarily mollified.

“Why don’t you just torture the information we need out of them?” He asked and Nisha stiffened at his casual tone.

“We don’t have an adequate facility for torture.” Cinder supplied. “From what Zarias said, you have the room and tools for what we need.”

“Then give them to me.” The smile that crept across his face sent chills down Nisha’s back. “I’ll get the information we need out of them.”

“They’re our prisoners.” Nisha snarled, her eyes flashing with golden light. She’d be damned if he took – Lights flashed behind her eyes as Drovono struck. Staggering, Nisha steadied herself as her mind reeled. She hadn’t even seen him move. Blood flooded her mouth and down her chin and she straightened slowly, meeting his bloodred gaze.

“Don’t speak to me.” Drovono growled, his eyes daring her to start the fight that he would finish. Baring her bloody teeth in a snarl, Nisha stepped forward but Cinder caught her arm.

“I think we’ll all agree that Nisha was out of place.” He said placatingly, his glance ordering her to back down. She could feel it. That same old anger filling her to the point of snapping. He was evil. He deserved to die and she longed to the be one to cut the thread. Her muscles trembled with bloodlust and for a moment anger warred with self control until serenity stepped in and brought the fight to a close.

Spitting blood to the side, she stepped back. Her job was to protect and the children they were here to rescue came ahead of her pride. Relaxing somewhat, Cinder continued.

“But I really don’t think we can surrender our prisoners to you. See, they are our collateral. Once we give them to you, we have no assurance that Palaveen will give us the time of day.”

Drovono grunted in begrudging agreement, but still blocked their way. “Then I guess you can come back tomorrow.” His words brooked no argument. That was it. They were going to fail. For all they knew, Palaveen was killing the children right now. A half formed plan rose into Nisha’s mind and she ran with it, ignoring her common sense that screamed objections.

“You’re pretty strong.” She licked her teeth, cleaning them of blood. “Does that strength translate to other aspects?” Inexperienced as she was in the ways of seduction, there were signs unique to tieflings to aid her. Relaxing her ears, she tipped her chin to the side as her barbed tail curled around her leg.

He paused, reading the change that came over her. Nisha arched a brow, her tail slowly uncurling to brush the air in gentle strokes. Come on you brute… Let us in. His eyes trailed over her in a grotesque appraisal and she let her shield tip to the side, opening herself up to his gaze.

“Get in here.” The words were hungry, the tone of a man who was used to getting what he wanted, when he wanted. Pushing the gate open, he gestured her in. The wolf drawing it’s prey into den.

“My friends?” She asked, her voice husky as she stepped forward.

“Fine. They can wait inside until we’re done.” Drovono snapped impatiently.

They were in.

Reality set in on her mind like a poisonous gas, chilling her to the bone. What had she just agreed to? As if in a daze, she followed Drovono inside, Cinder working out the details with the choleric man. It took every shred of her focus to keep her body in a seductive mode, her limbs loose instead of tense with fear. Her sinuous tail undulated in even waves, baiting his attention onto her and away from her companions.

She could feel his presence behind her, a haunting specter just out of vision. Then his hand was on her shoulder, hot through her armor and she flashed him a smile as he opened the door to a side building.

The smile evaporated as she was confronted with a giant slug. It rose upright, opening a four petaled mouth to hiss at her. “What is that!?” She demanded, her ears flattening against her skull. Refusing to enter the room, her mind raced for a way to use the slug as an excuse to escape, but Drovono merely brushed past her.

“Don’t be such a pussy.” He snarled. Seizing the slug, he dragged it past her and flung it into the courtyard. Eyeing the creature distractingly, she gasped as Drovono seized her arm and yanked her inside. All thoughts of escape vanished as he immediately invaded her space, descending upon her with a palpable hunger. Huge hands set against her armor, intent on rending it asunder.

Seizing his wrists, she glared up at demanding man. “Are you going to pay for that?” She snapped, unable to hold back her anger. He paused, momentarily torn between satisfying his immediate desire and shelling out hundreds of golden coins. Shoving her back, he gnashed his teeth.

“Take it off. Quickly.” Growling softly, Drovono began to prowl around her in a circle, waiting for his chance to strike.

Licking dry lips, Nisha spoke with what she hoped was a seductive tone as he stepped behind her. “Why don’t you sit and have a drink and we have some fun with this?” All she had to do was stall. Languidly she picked at the leather laces that held her armor plates together. She jumped as teeth snapped next to her ear, Drovono’s breath wreathing her neck.

“Shut up and hurry, bitch. I’m still on the clock.” Hurry. That was the opposite of what she was going for. He continued to circle her and she gave him a small pout of her lips.

“Why don’t you take your armor off too?” She suggested, letting the first piece of armor fall to the floor. “Might as well make this a little fun.”

His eyes flashed a deeper red and he snarled, the feral sound filling the room. “I said Shut Up.

Falling silent, Nisha removed her armor as slowly as she dared, piece by piece. At one point she heard Rin’s voice in her mind, asking her if she was alright, but she could only push her feelings of stress and fear across their connection, unable to find words. Drovono never took his eyes off of her, his animalistic want exuding off of his every movement as he prowled around the room.

Finally, she was down to her greaves. Sitting on the bed, she tipped her head forward to hide her apprehension. Hurry… Please hurry. There was maybe a minute separating her from Drovono’s terrifying hunger. Real fear was setting in that he would have his way with her. Secondary plans began to rise to her mind. Should she just fight him now? Hope that the others had taken care of the guards? What sort of ramifications would that bring if they hadn’t?

It was her job to protect… But at what price?

At that moment, a shot rang out. Bless you, Rashaan. She sat up, pretending to be as confused as Drovono. The huge man stepped towards the door. “Your clothes will be off by the time I am back.” He stepped out and Nisha scrambled for her armor, haphazardly throwing it on until she heard Cinder’s voice outside.

“What’s going on out here?” He asked in a comradery tone. Nisha froze, leaning against the door. What was going on?! Was that not the signal? Torn on what was the right choice, she listened for a moment longer but there was no further indications of a fight. On the contrary, it seemed Cinder was getting along quite well with everyone. Whispering every profane word she knew in abyssal, Nisha shed the rest of her armor frantically. Drovono was coming back.

Tearing her shirt from her body, she threw herself on the bed as the doorknob turned. Assuming a seductive position, her fingers trailing just above her bra she smiled at him as he stepped in.

“What happened?” She asked innocently, hoping that this was naked enough for the man for now.

Drovono slammed the door behind him, the walls quivering with the force of the blow. “I hope Zarias forgives me.”

Confused, Nisha sat up, a question on her lips, but Zarias lunged at her with lethal intent. Dodging backwards, his claws narrowly missed her throat. The carved a vicious path over her collarbones and down her chest, flaying the skin to the bone. Pain blossomed, as intense as her blood was red. Crying out, she sent a panicked warning through her scarbond with Telarin. Rin! He’s attacking!

Rolling off the bed away from Drovono, she came up with her sword and shield. A pathetic defense against the bloodthirsty monster. He rained down attacks upon her, his claws bright with her blood. Each blow to her shield reverberated through her arm and into her chest, sending searing pain through her torn muscles. He was strong. Blood ran down her stomach, slick and hot as she tried find a rhythm to his never ending attacks.

He broke past her shield, clawing it aside to swipe at her skin. Desperately, she tried to bring up her sword to block, but he was already in. His claws parted her skin like butter. Nisha cried out, the sound sharp and scared to her ears. She was no match for him. She couldn’t even remember the last time she’d been this overpowered. A raging storm, he beat down upon her, uprooting her blow by blow.

Drawing on her divine power, Nisha slipped back a step to steady herself. A golden globe surrounded her, reflecting a few of his attacks and giving her the time to cast a quick heal. It was weak in comparison to the damage Drovono had inflicted upon her. Her right arm trembled with the effort of just holding her sword, her bicep shredded in four places. Just block him… They’ll come.

Not daring to attack lest she give him the chance to bypass her defense, Nisha weathered the storm with her shield, magic and every ounce of experience her seventy-six years had to lend. Distantly she could hear her companions fighting outside, nearing the door between each torrent of attacks. She could last. They were almost here. With Iomdae’s aid, they would persevere. Raising her sword hand to her chest to cast another heal on herself, Nisha allowed herself to taste hope.

Drovono burst through her magical protection with impossible strength.

Razor sharp claws ripped across her stomach. Her shield sagged as her organs spilled forth and Nisha slowly looked up to the monster in disbelief. This… This couldn’t be the end… Not to him. Not this grinning beast.

His claw came down again and Nisha knew no more.

* * *

Hours later, Nisha collapsed on her bed, still incredulous that she was actually alive. The four walls that surrounded her were her new home. They had taken over the Bastards of Erebus’s base after killing each and every one of them and now they all had their own room instead of sharing one common area. She was glad that Janivan had agreed to make this their new base of operations, for she could feel Aroden’s presence here. The base used to be a shrine or church dedicated to him, and like nearly all of his churches, it had been re-purposed after his disappearance. The sensation was weak, but reminiscent and comforting all the same.

Rolling onto her back, Nisha covered her eyes with the crook of her arm. She was alone… The blessing was also a curse. There was no one to be brave for, no one to protect and she was left at her emotions mercy. A rock formed in her throat as she thought back over the battle that had almost killed her. She’d fallen, what, two times? Three? The taste of death was still strong on her tongue and she swallowed hard as her mind trailed over the disjointed memories.

She blinked, blurry images forming into Areal and Zarias. Disoriented, she sat up too fast and almost threw up as the result. Areal’s hand was cold against her shoulder, urging her to slow down but her heart was hammering. Moving more from instinct than logic she stood and pulled on a shirt, the action nonsensical. Mere fabric wouldn’t protect her anymore than her skin had. Flinching at the vivid memory of Drovono’s claws parting her flesh, she purposefully avoided his corpse that lay sprawled across the floor… Picking up her shield and sword, she murmured a thanks to Areal, shame coloring her cheeks. He was supposed to be somewhere safe but he’d come to fill the void she’d left when she fell. Turning quickly, she chased after Zarias, squinting in the bright light of day…

Flinching away from the memory of her failure, Nisha moved on mentally. There had been Hellhounds out of all things… They had dragged her to the ground and mauled her. Her hand moved to the nape of her neck where they’d worried her flesh. Swallowing hard, Nisha reminded herself that she had to thank Rin for stepping forward into danger and healing her. Of course, she’d undone most of his work when she’d stood…

Tears tickled at her eyelids and she tightened her hand into a fist. She had to stop thinking of her failures that fight. Going over them like this wasn’t helpful or productive. Pressing her lips into a firm line, she forced herself to think of something she’d done right.

Ermola. The woman was woefully undertrained for the fight. Almost immediately she’d fallen, blocking in the room teeming with enemies. Reaching down, Nisha blessed her with the power of Iomedae, the golden orb rising around her and repelling a torrent of attacks. The few that actually pierced through, she took with her own body, gritting her teeth against the pain. This was what she was born to do. Protect. And the price of protection was pain.

Only the conglomeration of wounds that she took for her once again dropped her to her knees. Her vision flickered as she fought the sweet release of unconsciousness. Death whispered to her, caressed her cheek, reminded her that she’d given protecting her all and eternal rest was so close…

Brilliance filled her, banishing Death and his sultry voice. Areal had healed her once more, reviving her to her duty. Her heart pounded with renewed life, but Nisha couldn’t stand… She was tired. So tired. On hands and knees, she panted, her chest heaving with effort. Exhaustion pulled at her mind and body, for the mortal body wasn’t supposed to withstand repetitive damage, no matter the amount of healing. It still took it’s toll. Sapped of all strength, she looked up at Ermola, the woman’s shield on her back but with her shield up the way she had taught her. Pride flickered in the back of her mind, distant and faint, but present. Gritting her teeth, Nisha reached within herself and took hold of her resolve. Slowly, her fingers curled around her shield handle, the grip worn to her hand. A heartbeat later, Nisha drug herself upright, her eyes filled with golden light. She wavered for a moment, but she stood. It was time to fucking end this.

Nisha rolled over onto her side, hugging her pillow to her chest. Almost giving into death wasn’t exactly the best thing she’d ever done. She couldn’t even remember if she’d killed anything. It was a battle where a lot had gone wrong, but everyone had worked together to finish the job. If she was being honest with herself… Her respect for them had grown.

At least the children had been saved. Upon inspection of the base, they had found the children chained in a cell. They had quailed at the sight of her so Nisha had made herself scarce, consoling herself with the fact they were safe. She couldn’t blame them… It was a common prejudice, one that she wasn’t sure was unfair. Tieflings like her and Zarias were more rare than diamonds.

Exhaustion blanketed her thickly, numbing her mind. Janiven had promised four days to rest and recover and, while she was loath to admit it, she needed it. Her eyelids began to droop, sleep only held at bay by the unrelenting soreness of her muscles. Sleepily, she decided that she liked her companions. They were nice. Well some of them. Her forehead squinched in a frown as she thought about Rashaan. Resolving to talk to the strange man, she finally succumbed to sleep.

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The script for "The Six Trials of Larazod"

The Six Trials of Larazod

Act 1: Condemnation A high-backed obsidian bench stands upcenter. As the curtain

rises, HAANDERTHAN himself perches there, an awesome figure of power looming

above the shackled forms of LARAZOD, TYBAIN, DENTRIS, and FARUS. The other

members of the COUNCIL, including the sultry ILSANDRA, flank out stage right and left

of HAANDERTHAN’S tribunal bench. The hulking bearded devil BAILIFF stands over

them, spiked truncheon in his scabrous red, leather-like hands.

BAILIFF

Order in the Tribunal. The Court of His Honor Paraduke Montigny Haanderthan, Black

Tongue of Lord Entropy, Magistrate Maleficarum, now holds session. All rise.

HAANDERTHAN

Be seated, members of the Court. Today this court seeks truth, or at least shadows

thereof, from one Larazod Rilsane, honored veteran of the Shadestar War, member of a

once gloried house, of recent fallen in Lord Entropy’s regard. The accused stands on

several counts of failed conspiracy, evidenced thereof by the industrious interrogations

of the court’s own Seeker, Drovalid Vorclune, administered with his usual diligence and

severity. In these interviews Vorclune gathered from notable sources, only a few of

whom survived their conversations with the lash, that Larazod of the Rilsane held

audience with undesirables—the topic of their whispered covenant the activities of none

other than myself. A most serious affair. Service to Lord Entropy’s ever-darkening glory

is never without risk of menace, betrayal, and threat of doom. My family and I have long

suffered the bumbling attempts of assassins who would tear at our dark lord’s visage as

casually as they befoul their mothers’ beds.

What they lack in cunning they bolster with sheer desperation, evidenced by consorting

with all manner of Aroden-suckling knaves, and aged wiz-worms who trust in mystic

secrets over the Dark One’s love.

You hereby stand accused, Larazod, along with your illseeming compatriots, of

conspiracy to undertake grievous harm to the institution of this tribunal, namely myself,

Paraduke Montigny Haanderthan. How answer thee these charges, Larazod of House

Rilsane? Be thou maligned by a scandal-brewer’s wagging tongue, or dost thou cleave

to my comings and goings as a bloat fly to a fresh cadaver? Speak! And know that lies

are my closest friends. They’ll betray you before I. Speak the truth or do worse than die!

DENTRIS

Hold your tongue, boy, and we’ll escape the firebrand yet. Your father was the model of

a devil’s squire. Summon his wiles now, and keep shut that Abyss you call mouth,

before we all tumble down into its darkness. Had you been born deaf and dumb, this

loyal servant would yet live to see another midnight.

TYBAIN

Hurl his arrogance and accusations back at him, Larazod. He wants precious golden-

yoked truth? Give him more than he can choke down. For whether revealed by the

brilliance of Aroden’s eye, or the long red shadows cast by your Dark Lord’s fiery gaze,

a man false at heart and shrouded in hollow faiths is nothing more than a traitor to all.

Let him that judges false be judged by wraiths—smote by his own brand shall he fall.

LARAZOD

Larazod knows no lies, great magistrate, and no slanderer’s tongue caresses my

dignity. The accusations you speak are as true as Lord Entropy’s sword. They cleave

clean through. Let the witnesses suffer no more lash. To burn their innards with pokers

and steal their eyes is simply to waste precious toil better spent in Entropy’s service.

There is but one point misaligned in this dark constellation—I seek not your death,

though the secrets you harbor in your feeble heart deserve a gruesome demise.

I carry no assassin’s blade, nor breath-stealing spell to rob your mortality. To end you I

need only know you, and to cast you in an honest shade. I pierce your “shadows of

truth” and show you for what I know—a false knave, a demon-supping wag-tail, a

balor’s bawd, a pus-leaking cataract in the eye of Lord Entropy’s justice, and subject to

the multi-handed ministrations of a marilith whore, dretchloving plunderer, and traitor to

our great Dark Lord.

Farus makes an amusing rude gesture as there is much commotion among the council.

ILSANDRA

(Aside) And to think I almost spent this session in the orgybaths of Kalrath. None of their

fleshy delights could compare to the ecstasy this half-breed’s words stroke within me!

See his fierce aspect burn in fury, even below the tribunal’s culling justice. But how shall

Haanderthan answer?

HAANDERTHAN

Heavy words for a forked tongue to manage, boy. You juggle them well enough, but like

a poor fool, offer jest and jape. I assume this glib outrage, obviously a threadbare

attempt to throw off the keening blade of justice, is backed by the testimony of a

thousand law-loving fiends? Perhaps the ancient augurer at your side, ever your father’s

faithful lap-lizard, probed the ancient secrets of the cosmos and uncovered my

blasphemous treachery? Or have you a soulbonded scroll of bone-white parchment

upon which my scrawled hand appears next to some Lightspawned conspirator? You

amuse me, half-breed, and it is the only reason your sniveling soul is not yet blasted

away in hellfire and borne on a river of sorrow to some ignominious corner of the Hells.

Whereof comes this lunacy? What disease vexes your broken mind? From what

mystery of psychosis do you draw your lies?

TYBAIN

You mewl lies like a sullied maid on her wedding night, O Great One. Even a lord may

be smote in darkness as Lord Entropy sees the truth of you—a base and lowly thing,

snivelling in crimson robes. These Dark-bowing citizens about us are affront enough to

Aroden’s divine will, but ye, whose left hand clasps Tiamat’s claws, and right reaches

out for Entropy’s boon—oh double-dealing fiend-lover, who allies with Tiamat. Entropy’s

oaths and then blasphemy spew in one breath from your twisting lips.

HAANDERTHAN

Does your Aroden arse-kissing pall-a- dine put you up to such resounding blasphemy?

Have you no tongue of your own, half-breed, to answer my charge?

LARAZOD

Truth is spoken freely in many tongues, false magistrate, and by agents of light and

dark. You know what you are.

HAANDERTHAN

You persist in this foolishness? It shall go hard for you and yours. Recant and your

deaths shall be swift, your souls consigned to diligent service in bowels of the Arena.

Refuse, and enlist in agony’s service, consign your soul to wallow in the most

ignominious corner of the Pit, and take eternal suffering as your bedmate.

ILSANDRA

(Aside) He’s to have a much more interesting bedmate, if I’ve anything to say. The fire

that one shows at tribunal, will no doubt burn even stronger between my sheets.

DENTRIS

(Aside) That one grows hot betwixt her infernal thighs. Hope beyond hope. One voice of

dissent on the council and the slenderest chance of salvation is ours to clutch. Let this

waxen sliver of hope not melt until she does—let her find her tongue.

HAANDERTHAN

Speak, boy. Do you still baffle with false charges, or have your battered wits returned?

Speak.

LARAZOD

I recant nothing. You, accuser, so stand accused. How do you answer?

HAANDERTHAN

Innocent, of course. And so judgment is passed. My right as magistrate puts you to the

flames on my command. My word is law.

DENTRIS

Respectfully, my lord, when I was a barrister of the tribunal, it was common practice to

ask Consular Consent in any judgement of a matter involving the Magistrate personally

in the case. Has the ancient code of Lord Entropy’s court, scorched on the Tablets of

Law by our Great Lord’s own bloody talon, so fallen as to warrant its complete disregard

in this tribunal?

HAANDERTHAN

Of course, you are correct, old man. I’ve no intention of affronting our Great Lord.

Council, what say ye on this matter? Do you concur with my judgment? These heinous

slanders cast upon my great name warrant utter annihilation. So sayeth I, Magistrate of

this Gloried Tribunal. Do you agree?

Councillors mutter and call “Aye.” Farus mocks them in pantomime.

ILSANDRA

Nay.

HAANDERTHAN

My ears deceive me. Do you, august erinyes, daughter of the Dark, speak against our

cause?

ILSANDRA

I speak against your judgment. Our cause is yet undetermined by my mark. According

to our oldest codes, truth can be drawn from an offender, as pus from a wound. Lord

Entropy’s Trials show the true heart from the false. Why, simply put the half-breed to the

flames. Let us try him properly in accordance with the old ways.

DENTRIS

Well done, lad. Your pretty infernal face is good for something, even if your tongue

offends all who hear. We may live yet.

HAANDERTHAN

Tut, the business of the tribunal heaps higher day by day. We’ve cases waiting in the

wings by the thousands. Penitent souls singing out for justice. Shall we delay their flight

to Lord Entropy’s waiting embrace to engage in infantile contests? Nay, expediency is

our charge when matters so lacking in evidence are brought before our bench.

ILSANDRA

Come, come, sweet magistrate. The spectacle of a few trials would do my poor heart

well. I wane at these tiresome sessions. Let the trials commence. ’Twould arouse me.

’Twould tickle me. ’Twould drive me to distraction.

HAANDERTHAN

Trials you say? How now? If it is to be so, let us sweeten the pot. A price I would exact

for trials as you insist. If this half-breed fails, not only is my name cleared of all

preposterous charges, but you shall compact to me for a full moon’s service, to do my

bidding and satisfy all my unwholesome needs.

ILSANDRA

Let it be so agreed. I hunger so for trials, I happily wager my body to your whim. We

shall see if this half-breed’s words strike true or false.

HAANDERTHAN

So be it. Larazod, you stand in trial. By my discretion you shall face six of Lord

Entropy’s fell tests. You stand alone in the face of terrors over which no mortal has

prevailed.

TYBAIN

Not alone, my lord. I stand with him.

HAANDERTHAN

You are under no obligation to do so, puppet of the Light. Back down and be

discharged, to keep at your slobbering benedictions for a few more years at least.

TYBAIN

I am true to Aroden, the Bright Blade, my lord, but I am also true in loyalty and kinship.

This man, though half-Darkspawn his blood may turn, is bound to me in brotherhood, as

I stand bound to him. Our blades both matched the enemies of Cillimar, and what faith

divides, common cause unites. You cannot sunder me from his destiny. I stand trial at

his side, as is my right, if I so beclaim it. Is it not so, Dentris?

DENTRIS

’Tis true, my lord. If the half-brained, light-blinded knight wishes to perish alongside my

good master, he is within his lawful right.

HAANDERTHAN

Very well. Burn with him, fool. Dentris Maltrada, you are hereby discharged.

DENTRIS

Nay sir, though I wish nothing more. This boy, as wayward as his fancies take him, is in

my care. I never waivered from his father’s service, and I shall not turn my back on the

son.

HAANDERTHAN

Surely, you’ve no wish to die?

DENTRIS

There are worse fates, magistrate, than even can be promised on the deepest level of

your Hell. To walk alive in a world, my duty undone, my sworn oath broken, is to walk

through fires more smolderous than any found in the Great Arena. Though he be a fool,

and possessed of a diseased wit, Larazod is my master, and I shall stand by him. Do

your worst magistrate. I’ve rolled bones with demons, and gazed in dragons’ hearts. Let

us have these trials and be done with my life, if the lords of darkness so command.

HAANDERTHAN

Then the halfwit! Begone from thy ill-fated lord’s service.

Farus refuses comically

HAANDERTHAN

Doddering old sack of bones. Mute fool. No demon’s dice, nor dragon’s musings await

you—only torment beyond the stars’ most infinite imaginings. When you mewl out for

merciful death, I shall look on in pleasure, as your soul’s wake burns from a withered old

corpse. Make ready, supplicants. The trials begin anon. May Lord Entropy take pity on

your blighted souls.

Act 2: Trial by Torture Enter DROVALID.

HAANDERTHAN

Good Keeper of Pain, Tormentor of Liars and Demonsuckling Miscreants, we are

honored by your presence. Show these supplicants the favor of your stinging lash, and

with rack and fire, purge lies from their lips. Break their souls, and let the mad and guilty

appall our ears no more with ranting.

DROVALID

Magistrate Maleficarum, I come before you a simple hand whose lash is guided by the

greater glory of Lord Entropy, may my scourge do him and this devoted tribunal proud.

With your permission I shall begin our first trial.

HAANDERTHAN

Begin at your leisure, Tormentor. End this fool’s mockery of our court with cleansing

agony.

Enter the Device and other implements of torture. Drovalid begins administering

agonizing pain upon a stoic Larazod and companions.

DENTRIS

Fools, my good master may be a fool of a tiefling, but if you think to wrack his spine,

and wheedle mewled recantation from his black lips, you are even greater fools than he.

Larazod is no coward, and he sneers in the face of pain with true faith in Lord

Entropy—he cannot waver. He faced Tiamat’s spawn and hordes of their slime-ridden

minions in battle. His coal-black soul did not quake then. He stands resolute now. You

cannot break his spirit.

DROVALID

Recant half-breed. Admit your twisted falsehoods, serpent-tongued traitor!

LARAZOD

Even an ocean of agony cannot turn truth to lie.

More bone-crunching, skin-flensing torment.

DROVALID

Recant and end this trial! Swift death shall embrace you and Lord Entropy smiles upon

those who admit their falsehoods—he may not rend your soul completely, may leave

some semblance of your spirit intact.

LARAZOD

I recant… nothing! Grind on, honeyed torment. Sing sweetly as I may, no cries of

“recant” shall you hear. I hate lies, as I hate Tiamat-loving traitors.

More torture.

LARAZOD

Had enough, Magistrate? Can you withstand it any longer? Please give in and recant,

for the only torment I cannot bear is your continued duplicity. Recant, Magistrate!

Recant your own lies, and Lord Entropy may have mercy on your slimy soul.

TYBAIN

Ha! Even in the face of soul-crushing pain, he taunts this ridiculous Magistrate of Hell.

Hear me, Powers of the Light, if Lord Entropy has such as Larazod in his employ, all our

efforts are doomed. Would that you could command such steadfast loyalty as this one

here, who laughs at death and grins at the grimmest pain.

ILSANDRA

(Aside) Such a sweet voice. I long to hear his screams more—ah, but to elicit them

myself, with a soulburning kiss, and an aching embrace. This torture is most stimulating,

though I do hope the Tormentor doesn’t mar the tiefling’s choicest parts. Leave off

those! They belong to me alone!

DROVALID

(Exhausted) Recant!

LARAZOD

Never! Lash every inch of flesh from me, leave only a bloody ruin where I stand—that

skinned wreck of a man will gurgle only truth and never recant.

Drovalid ends torment and casts down his whip.

DROVALID

He is as unbreakable as a marble tide—dragon’s scale would have shattered long

ago—and yet he stands unbowed. No lie can evade this unholy lash of mine, gifted to

me by Lord Entropy himself. Larazod must speak the truth!

HAANDERTHAN

Fool! Continue the trial, you’ve yet to probe deep enough into his soul’s painful lies!

DROVALID

My work is done. My findings true. You have never doubted my hand before. Why do

you so now? Could it be this Darkling speaks true? Are you allied against our august

master of darkness?

HAANDERTHAN

Mind your place, Tormentor! You speak blasphemy in the face of this land’s own

Magistrate Maleficarum. Beware, your words endanger your very soul. Take you this

halfbreed’s part? Then you would join him on his trials? Don’t be a fool.

DROVALID

If Lord Entropy wishes it so then my soul stands with his. If my hand has failed you, then

I shall burn for it. I shall face the remaining five trials at Larazod’s side.

HAANDERTHAN

So be it, traitor. Your rending death, and his, shall be my vindication. Bring on the

second trial!

Act 3: Trial by Pleasure Enter the bailiff bearing five vials and five curved flensing

knives. He hands one of each to Dentris, Tybain, Larazod, Drovalid, and Farus.

HAANDERTHAN

It is said that a liar’s pain is easy to bear, but pleasure steals truth from even the most

well-tended fortress. So let it be with ye, Larazod. Here before you now are the Flukes

of Lord Entropy. Their bite more pleasurable than the caresses of a thousand succubi.

Taste of their deep burrowing bliss. Their rapturous journey through your body shall

explore the deepest, darkest pleasures any mortal has ever known. Their soul-

shuddering wanderings end in your skull, where they plant their young who consume

you in an orgasmic frenzy—leaving you an empty husk of a thing—a spent lover,

drooling in blissful oblivion forever. Unless, of course, you can resist these Power-

bending pleasures. This time, the trial is not yours alone to bear. Let us see if your

trusted companions’ faith remains as unshakeable as yours. Who shall be the first to die

in spasms of ecstasy?

ILSANDRA

Oh, how I long to face this judgment!

HAANDERTHAN

(Angered). Then so be it! Ye, who speaks for the half-breed, the lone traitor on the

council who speaks against my august personage. You must brave this trial, and all that

follow, alongside the accused.

ILSANDRA

(Laughing) Gladly! I stand at this Darkling’s side, or at his back, or him at mine, or

perhaps I should bolster him up from below or allow him to do the same to me. You

shall see how devotedly I attend his pleasure, for he speaks the truth.

HAANDERTHAN

Then burn with him.

ILSANDRA

But I see only five flukes, oh Magistrate. It seems that once again you will be leaving a

lady unsatisfied.

HAANDERTHAN

Fear not, turncoat. Thou must face the black caress of Entropy’s tendrils, which shall

drive you to such exquisite ecstasy that your black heart will burst from your chest!

Black tendrils erupt from the ground around Ilsandra and entwine her, leaving her

gasping in rapture.

LARAZOD

Ilsandra!

HAANDERTHAN

If one such as you can feel concern for her, then make haste! Once each has baptized

his blade with his own blood, then you may cut away her bonds. If you are able to resist

the flukes!

DROVALID

Master Larazod, most unholy saint of our dark Lord Entropy, please allow me to prove

my devotion to your cause. To think my biting lash flayed your chaste red skin, and

cracked such a noble hide as yours. I shall be first to face this trial, if you so wish it.

LARAZOD

Your courage is beyond question. Show this lickspittle Magistrate the meaning of

devotion, my friend.

Drovalid administers the fluke, convulses in sheer orgasmic ecstasy, but as it crawls up

his arm he suddenly plunges a flensing blade beneath the skin, skewering the fluke and

removing it.

DROVALID

(Gasping) Lord Entropy bear witness to my devotion. This half-breed speaks only truth!

Likewise, Larazod applies the fluke to his flesh, where it hungrily burrows beneath the

surface. Larazod shudders in pleasure.

ILSANDRA

(Moaning) Oh, to be that fluke! To burrow into such sweet flesh!

LARAZOD

I sing only of the joy of supplication to our dark lord. This pleasure is only a gift of Lord

Entropy’s truth. I would gladly die at this fluke’s bite, but alas, my duty here is yet

undone, and so I scorn this pleasure with a bleeding blade. I shall not relent until your

lies are revealed, foul Magistrate.

Larazod cuts out his fluke.

Dentris applies his fluke.

DENTRIS

Oh! It has been so long! Sweet, aching ecstasy!

Improvises a rendition of the Tallis and his Three Wives, and then cuts away the fluke

when it is nigh in his neck.

DENTRIS

(Sourly) Between you, my hideous half-breed young master, and a dream of three

succubi’s frolics on my flesh—a hard choice, Larazod, but somehow your sweet

countenance won out.

TYBAIN

My turn, I suppose.

Tybain applies his fluke and begins giggling uncontrollably.

TYBAIN

Ooooh! Aaaaah! I know not this feeling!

DENTRIS

Ha! Watch the virginal knight squirm!

TYBAIN

It is as if a thousand feathers assault my flesh— especially my most… tender… parts.

What strange pleasure is this!

Farus makes suggestive gestures

LARAZOD

Ah, servants of the Light, so like sweet children they be. Hold true, my dear friend!

Tybain suddenly tears loose his fluke.

TYBAIN

I am well, though I may never be the same.

LARAZOD

The last! Quickly now!

Farus applies the fluke and shudders in delight, then cuts it loose.

LARAZOD

Now, to the Dark lady!

The companions plunge their blades into the tendrils holding Ilsandra, which vanish.

Ilsandra joins the companions, and embraces Larazod with a fiery kiss. He surrenders

to her pleasures.

ILSANDRA

Know the gifts of Lord Entropy, dear child. You have earned great boons by your

devoted service, and I shall pay them all with interest. But for now, our pleasures must

wait.

HAANDERTHAN

Curse your persistence. All lies eventually reveal their ugly fangs. I shall draw them as

venom from a wound.

Act 4: Trial in the Belly of the Beast

DENTRIS

Such horrors. What next?

LARAZOD

Hold true, old man.

DENTRIS

Easy for you to say! Youth laughs at death as a stranger. As you grow older you come

to know it well—and fear it.

DROVALID

I have seen young and old break before this court. They all share one thing: a weak and

watery eye speaking to a frailty of spirit. Your eyes are like grit and sand, obstinate even

in the face of the storm-fraught sea. You cannot break, old wizard.

DENTRIS

Perhaps not, but tell me, Tormentor—what fresh horrors await?

DROVALID

Here follows the Trial in the Belly of the Beast. A great terror, gifted to this court by an

Old Power, the Beast is a hideous thing, whose stomach is a nest of acid-spewing

serpents. It shall swallow us whole, and wash us clean in its acid well.

DENTRIS

Where is the “trial” in this!?

DROVALID

If we are innocent, and speak no lies, then the Beast’s Belly will leave us unscathed.

TYBAIN

Madness!

LARAZOD

Hold fast, my dear friend. Have faith in Lord Entropy.

TYBAIN

But I do not!

LARAZOD

Well then you better learn to swim.

Enter the Beast.

LARAZOD

Come, horror, I shall tear my way from your gizzard with the white-hot blade of my truth.

DROVALID

Die though I might, melted to a puddle of liquid flesh in the bowels of the Beast, I cannot

think of any greater man to join in death. I am honoured to die at the side of a man so

filled with truth.

ILSANDRA

If my flesh must liquefy, then know that I am glad it will mingle with yours, dearest

Larazod.

DENTRIS

Come and have a bite, Old Beastie. These old bones shall stick in your craw and choke

the life from you.

TYBAIN

My holy flesh shall burn it all the way down. Aroden’s blessings upon my soul ensure a

most unpleasant meal for this Beast.

Farus makes comical gagging motions.

The Beast devours them. They fight their way free from his gizzard.

Act 5: The Birthing Trial

HAANDERTHAN

You have crawled from the maw of the Beast. Let us see what blasphemous lies slither

from your treacherous insides. Show them.

The Bailiff brings out six crimson eggs.

DROVALID

Dear Entropy! Spare us!

LARAZOD

What means these strange crimson eggs?

DROVALID

Oh horror beyond nightmare! The eggs, they burrow deep within us. They hatch deep in

our insides, churning our guts to paste and slurping them through gritted devil teeth.

They feed on our souls. When these foul devils have eaten their fill, they tear their way

free—terrible things! Hideous devil-children bearing our own faces, but filled with hate

for all we are. We are mothers to twisted things and look upon our own visage as we die

by their taloned hands.

HAANDERTHAN

Shall you recant now, or will you give birth to abominations of your very flesh?

ILSANDRA

Do your worst, fool of a mortal. I am a princess to hell, and no child born of my black

soul shall bear malice against me.

Larazod lifts the Bailiff off the ground by the throat with one mighty hand.

LARAZOD

Ha! Give me your egg, you lickspittle. If Lord Entropy wishes it, I shall choke the life of

my own devilish child with glee. I gulp this egg down before this court and our dark

lord’s very eyes.

DENTRIS

Well, give me mine. Not much good it shall avail you. The real Dentris Maltrada was

killed ages ago at my own devilish hands when I was born from his old soul. I am a child

of this egg.

TYBAIN

Truly?! I had no idea!

DENTRIS

(Rolls eyes) If only everyone was as naïve as ye, paladin.

TYBAIN

I like eggs! Red, white, or otherwise. Hand me mine! I’ll eat it raw!

The companions eat their eggs and hideous devil children are born from them. They

battle the devil children valiantly. Ilsandra, amazed that her daughter attacks her, lashes

out with ferocity.

ILSANDRA

No! My child! Forgive me! You’ll pay for this, Haanderthan—with your heart’s blood, and

with every shred of your soul.

Act 6: Trial by Combat and Love

HAANDERTHAN

(Aside) How can this be? Four trials broken, and still they prevail. Lord Entropy smiles

upon them. Does the Dark Lord truly know of my compact with Tiamat? It cannot be, or I

am utterly undone. True or nay, I must try the last. I shall plunge their faith in pitch and

acrid stew, and see if they hold to the cause.

(To the companions) You sickly whelps profess undying devotion to one another.

Another smoldering lie flung from your dark holes. You but conspire to confound this

court and our Dark Majesty. ’Tis ye who contract with dragon-spawn and seek my

undoing, in service to some slimy mistress or master of the putrid Tiamat. Your vile

benefactors have thus far warded off justice’s dark hand, but let us see if you hold

steadfast before the promise of oblivion.

DENTRIS

More? I cannot last. My old heart gives out. Go on without me, master. I served your

father faithfully. Alas, I am found lacking in the face of his half-breed son. The

challenges, ever dire, cleave my soul from me. May Lord Entropy keep me.

LARAZOD

No foolish talk, old wizard. Haven’t you claimed immortality a thousand times to any

bent ear? Old Dentris Maltrada cannot die, ye said. I’ve eaten the heart of an ancient

Red Wyrm, and warmed by his fire, my soul burns eternal. Get up, my dear friend, more

father to me, than ever any father was. Your duties are not abated. Your task is yet

undone.

TYBAIN

Let him die. He’s suffered long enough, and we’ve suffered his blustery speeches even

more keenly. Kick off, old bag, and be done with ye!

DENTRIS

Why you shiny beetle! You quivering pall-o- dine of a sniveling Lighted Power! You

plump kettle! I’ll bring the all-encompassing powers of a thousand worlds crashing down

upon your head! The keening song of dead gods warble at my command. I’ll leave your

mind a tatterdemalion of a sad rag. Die! Die, you say! Nay, not till I’ve seen the last

oafish breath squeezed from your lungs by tongs of fire—you simpering Aro-din- din!

TYBAIN

Looking more lively now, aren’t we?

LARAZOD

Peace, old man. The pall-o- dine works a righteous healing upon your old

bones—applying the only balm your withered heart desires—spitting ire and uncouth

rage. Bile for balm, bile for balm—what a wolfish old man, a terror to kings and angels.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Dentris Maltrada. He knows no equal.

DENTRIS

Enough, pup! I am much abused. Lay not your hands on me, pall-o- dine! I’ll rise without

your Power’s urgings. I’ve work left indeed.

ILSANDRA

Strange old wizard, loyal and dear heart. He’ll join us in the marriage bed and one last

night of bliss will be his for the taking!

LARAZOD

A lovely sentiment, my princess of Hell, disturbing though it may be.

DROVALID

Enough. It is time. I am not long of your company, but know that I would stand by you all

through six hundred trials. Take hands with me, half-breed. My sins and yours are one.

Our destinies intertwine, and I walk your path with you to the bitter burning end.

LARAZOD

I’m honored.

HAANDERTHAN

How touching. These sentiments of yours are nothing but dreamy clouds, soon to be

shred by Lord Entropy’s blasting winds.

LARAZOD

Face of hazy dream-like bliss, kiss like fire. I burn for you, princess. Cling to me, dig

your talons into my chest and touch my heart with white-hot caress.

ILSANDRA

I am yours for one thousand blissful years. Drink my sizzling blood from my wrist, or

anywhere else you like— let us seal this sinful compact and consummate our love in the

heat of battle.

TYBAIN

Dentris, you old cur, dog curled by your master’s feet. I can’t call you friend, but a truer

servant I’ve never known. Loyalty is the mark of greatness. Know that my sword is

yours!

Farus comically hugs everyone.

ILSANDRA

Great Tormentor, Drovalid Vorclune, let it be said a man who can bear the vicious

ministrations he renders upon his foes is a great man indeed. Though I am pledged to

this young half-breed, know your courage sends shudders through my loins.

DROVALID

You do me sweet honor, great lady. I stand in awe of your passion, and these worthy

nobles’ unshakable courage. Even this milksop of a pall-o- dine stands hard against the

torments of the Arena—harder than the fiercest witch.

The companions fight off a legion of devils.

Act 7: Trial by His Own Dark Hand

HAANDERTHAN

The final trial is at hand. Your souls shall be quenched at long last.

LARAZOD

This trial is yours, Magistrate Maleficarum. Lord Entropy is the only true judge here.

Bow before him.

HAANDERTHAN

Insolent dog! Lord Entropy shall scour your soul as sauce from a pan. Ash for bones,

and waxen souls melted by the dark lord’s flame to puddle at his taloned feet.

LARAZOD

We shall see who is judged!

THE DARK LORD enters in a burst of foul colored flames and shrieking, crimson

skinned imps and offers Larazod a choice. His creatures hang silk scarves around all

the companions’ necks—one of red, one of crimson. Each is handed a contract written

in blood.

THE DARK LORD

Choose. A true heart shall beat strong for all eternity at my side, a false one rots to

nothing.

_Larazod and his companions choose the crimson scarves and the red ones rot away.

Haanderthan cries out in terror as THE DARK LORD turns on him._

THE DARK LORD

Treacherous magistrate who lords false justice over true souls. Your soul shall burn for

all eternity— an everlasting torment in the Arena awaits you.

THE DARK LORD drags Haanderthan into the mouth of Etheric Void.

Exeunt Omens.

View
Auditioning for a Play (gulp) from Zarias's PoV (bullet points)
  • Janiven has a friend named Ailyn Ghontasavos from the Pathfinder Society coming to visit.
  • The Pathfinder Society is not welcome in Westcrown so she’ll be going under cover.
  • I train Larko, Tarvi, Rizzardo, and someone else in one-on-one training. I dedicate a day to each of them.
  • My trainings go really well.
  • Tarvi especially takes well to my lessons, excelling in martial combat, and even managing to make fire appear during one of her strikes (I rolled a nat 20 for her training).
  • “That’s great! I doubt you have demon blood in you so that’s really great!” I said.
  • Tarvi was a bit freaked out by that comment but I didn’t know.
  • Nisha tries to train Tarvi with the shield for multiple days, but all the trainings go really poorly.
  • Tarvi gets frustrated and throws down the shield in anger, then storms off.
  • Nisha comes up to me on the third day and asks me to go speak with Tarvi with her.
  • I can tell that there is something that makes her uncomfortable about being alone with Tarvi.
  • We meet with Tarvi. “I don’t want to use a stupid shield! Shields are for cowards!”
  • Nisha keeps her cool, despite this rude comment. “Then I’m not sure that I’m the one to teach you, for I use the shield.”
  • “Teach me your magic,” said Tarvi.
  • Rin and Cinder hear that Tarvi is interested in magic.
  • “So, I hear you want to learn magic,” says Cinder in a cocky tone.
  • “Yeah, it’s better than a stupid shield,” says Tarvi.
  • “Yes, shields are for cowards,” said Cinder.
  • Tarvi takes very well to magic training, able to immediately summon fire.
  • Cinder went to the black market and found the girl that he went on a date with.
  • She was wearing the dress that Cinder bought for her that night.
  • He questions her about why she took off and why she didn’t seem to like him.
  • She says that she believes what he is doing is very noble, but has no desire to join him.
  • Cinder, in the process of their conversation, confirms that Yakupolio is associated with us and that we have taken up residence in the Bastards of Erebus’s old fortress (both of which are things that I as a player think are mistakes).
  • Yakupolio comes to us with a huge chest on the fourth day.
  • Inside is useful gear and a note.
    *The note says “These are for everything you do. We are watching, and we are grateful – Anonymous”
  • First item is a Bracelet of Friends
  • Has a set of 4 charms that can be attuned to friends
  • The attunement lasts forever or until changed
  • You can teleport them to your location. You grab the attuned charm and summon them. If they are willing, they will appear next to you instantly. The charm that was attuned to them then disappears forever
  • Worth 19k gold
  • Second item is a Crown of Blasting Major
  • Once per day yuou can shoot a blast of light that does 40 damage.
  • Range of 100 feet
  • Worth 23,760 gold
  • Could very easily draw attention, either for its value or for its magic
  • Last is a Circlet of Persuasion
    *Gives a +3 to Charisma based checks
  • I craft Masterwork Cestus Gloves – gives +1 to attack rolls
  • We visit a wine shop so that Cinder can sell fake expensive wine.
  • He took cheap wine and used Prestidigitation to transform it into an expensive-tasting vintage temporarily
  • While they’re in the shop, Nisha approaches me. “I want to give you something, but I want to know if it’s ok.”
  • “Ok…” I said cautiously.
  • “I want to give you a ring,” she says.
  • “Why would the be not ok?” I asked
  • “Well, when someone give someone else’s significant other it can mean something,” said Nisha.
  • “Oh, well, I’m sure it will be ok,” I said, starting to go purple in the face.
  • “Are you ok?” asked Nisha.
  • “It’s ok, I said, looking away awkwardly.
  • Nisha hands the ring and I take it from her, my face fully blushed purple.
  • Rin comes out of the store and sees the matching rings and the awkward stances of Nisha and me.
  • “What’s going on…?” he asks slowly.
  • “Spell! It’s for a spell, not relationship stuff!” I tell him.
  • “What does it do?” inquires Rin.
  • “It will send half the damage he takes to me,” said Nisha.
  • “Why would you be awkward about that?” said Rin.
  • “Because she gave me jewelry..” I say.
  • “It wasn’t awkward until I had to explain to him why giving him jewelry would be a problem, then he made it awkward,” said Nisha.
  • We then go meet with Ailyn
  • She tells us that there is a Pathfinder Society building with an ancient artifact in it known as the Blade of the Sun and Moon.
  • This item could bring an end to the Shadowbeasts forever.
  • The Pathfinder Society building is locked, and there are lots of nasty traps attached to it, so we’ll have to obtain the key.
  • The key is in the mayor’s house, and will be well defended, since there’s lots of strong guards and magical wards.
  • We will have to get in through more creative means.
  • “We want you all to participate in a play,” says Ailwyn
  • I panic, knowing that this sort of thing is not his strong suit. “What? Are you kidding me?”
  • “It’s the best way.” says Ailwyn.
  • The play is a combination of gladitorial combat and the theatre known as murder plays.
  • Actors are on a stage with things that will kill them
  • “That’s barbaric,” I said.
  • “but profitable” says Ailwyn.
  • The people who survive the play are invited to a 4 day rager of a party at the mayor’s place.
  • Most everyone will be drunk so it will be easier to sneak around.
  • Ailwyn and the leaders of Liberty’s Blade have bought off most of the actors so they’d blow their auditions.
  • 2 actors are still auditioning – Tessing and Calsenica
  • Calsenica is supposed to be nice, so we’re asked to treat her nicely
  • Thessing is the asshole we ran into earlier and then went to his play to sabotage him.
  • There are 6 slots for the play.
  • Preferably, we’ll get all 6 roles, but if not they’ll find a way to use those of us who don’t make it.
  • The auditions are the next morning
  • We all ask Cinder for acting lessons
  • Nisha, Harley, and Rin all calmly ask to be taught
  • I go up to Cinder and grabs his shoulders, shaking him desparately while begging to be taught
  • Cinder manages to successfully train everyone, even Zarias
  • Zarias spends a long while afterwards holding Steve in various positions and saying “To be, or not to be.”
  • The next day, Nisha gets up extra early and buys some nice clothes.
  • Bright and early in the morning, Ailyn sees us off to the play
  • Nisha wears her new nice clothes. The rest of us have our nice clothes from when we attended the play, and we wear them to audition in.
  • Reshan knows a little bit about the play. It’s supposed to be about supporting Asmodeus and his demons.
  • We have to choose a troupe name. We end up picking “Meepahl Dyphal.” It means “Mammon’s Demons” in Abyssal.
  • We get to the theater. It looks really nice.
  • A sign on the door says auditions are in the back.
  • There’s a waiting room with 3 people in it.
  • One is a fat woman who we know to be a famous opera singer.
  • Another is Thesing Umbero Ulvaud
  • The last is Calsenica.
  • Upon seeing who we are, Thessing’s eyes widen.
  • “What are you doing here? It’s not enough that you act like asses, now you’re competing!”
  • More banter goes back and forth. Rin and Cinder bring up that Thessing peed in a tuba.
  • Thessing says that was witchcraft. They ask how it could possibly have been witchcraft since guards were prohibiting magical items from being brought in
  • Thessing says that it must have been snuck in somehow. Cinder takes credit.
  • “You’ll pay for that,” says Thessing.
  • The fat lady speaks to Harley. “Sorry, dear, this isn’t that kind of audition,” she says, referring to the posters that declared Harley a 2 bit whore.
  • “Those were a prank!” says Harley.
  • Thessing bursts out laughing.
  • “Even if it were true, I would never go for so low,” said Harley in frustration.
  • “We all say that when we get into the business,” says the opera star.
  • “We all say that? How many dicks have you taken?” asks Rin.
  • “Oh, plenty in my time, dear, but I’m priceless now,” she tells him.
  • Rin tries to high-five her. She tells him not to touch her.
  • Cinder and Rin continue to taunt Thessing.
  • Rin claims to want to let bygones be bygones and puts his hand on Thessing’s shoulder.
  • Simultaneously, Cinder stomps on Thessing’s foot.
  • Rin uses the cover to scar Thessing, but Thessing notices that Rin did something to him.
  • Rin then asks Cinder to cast Prestidigitation on his clothes to make them cleaner. This is actually a cover so that Rin can cast a curse on Thessing, giving him a -6 to his Charisma.
  • Thessing starts clearing his throat. His throat sounds like it has a frog in it. He gets really nervous.
  • Reshan walks up to Thessing and practically fawns over him, telling Thessing that he is his biggest fan.
  • Thessing approves of the way Reshan treats him and gives Reshan 200 gold.
  • A hunchback guy comes out and calls our troupe.
  • We walk on stage and look around. There’s someone facing the wrong direction.
  • “Um…hello?”
  • The director turns around dramatically and says something about the audience hanging on his every word.
  • We applaud. The director tells us that our clapping is inadequate and that energy is necessary in everything we do. We clap harder.
  • The director tells us to line up. We do so in order of height horizontally across the stage.
  • “Well, at least you know how to stand in a line,” the Robahl, the director, says snootily.
  • The director snaps his fingers and a script appears in Cinder’s hands. he is told to go first.
    (Each of the players was reading from an actual script out loud for the next part.)
  • Cinder reads the lines. “Your delivery was terrible.”
  • Reshan reads the lines, putting a decent amount of inflection in his voice. He gets insulted too.
  • Then Harley is up. Before she begins, Robahl sighs and says “This isn’t that kind of audition. That audition is on the corner across the street.” She protests and then does her audition.
  • Then I am up next. I do actions that I think are appropriate along with my reading of the script. (All of my actions are intentionally a little over the top and meant to show how nervous Zarias is about doing this).
  • Rin goes next. He casts a spell to make the stage filled with dark clouds, then holds Steve above his head, with Steve’s eyes glowing red while he reads his lines.
  • Nisha is last. She reads casts Blessing before reading the lines, using it to create a sparkling effect on the stage.
  • We are then told to go into the next room.
  • The director tells each of us to insult him for this audition.
  • Nisha is made to go first this time.
  • She insults the director, saying something about how he means nothing in the grand scheme of the world, then right after she gets done, she apologizes to him.
  • “You’re next, the director tells Rin. Rin looks him straight in the eye, and says “good, because I want to tell you what a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-assed, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed, sack of monkey shit you are! Hallelujah! Holy shit!”
  • When it’s my turn, I gather shadows to myself and have my horns grow longer to make myself appear more threatening, then tell Robahl that he and his work will amount to nothing and that he is nothing more than a fly on the foot of Asmodeus’s dog.
  • Harley, who’s been looking forward to her turn, insults him next. She felt some vindication for being continually called a whore.
  • Reshan refused to insult the director and instead grovels, telling him that he’d rather insult the whore. He grovels at Robahl, saying “You’re a great director, I love you and please let me be in your play.” Robahl tells him to step back in disgust.
  • Cinder is next (His player rolls a nat 20). He tells Robahl how he’s nothing but the slime between his toes, and that the beard hair on his face is worse than his red pubes."
    *After that, it’s time to move on to the next audition.
    *End of Session
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The Bastards of Erebus from Zarias's PoV, Part II (bullet point edition)
  • Reshan leaps to the roof of Drovono’s quarters and shoots a hellhound. Two of them are standing near Nisha.
  • A mysterious spellcaster heals the mummy.
  • Rin casts Cure Moderate Wounds, then walks forward and uses the spell on Nisha, healing her for 14.
  • Nisha tries to jump up, but gets attacked by 2 hellhounds as she stands. She is bleeding.
  • Nisha casts fervor on herself and stops the bleeding.
  • I hop in the window and go full defensive.
  • Cinder hops in the window after me, then uses his Wand of Snowball on a couple foes in front of us.
  • The ice from his wand kills one of the enemies in front of us.
  • The mummy moves out of the crowd. It had to sidle around something invisible as it did.
  • The mummy then walked across the chamber with the staircase to the belltower.
  • “What trickery is this?” said the mummy upon seeing Cinder.
  • The mummy blasted Cinder with a barrage of Magic Missiles, dropping Cinder unconscious.
  • A bunch of the minions begin stabbing at Ermola. Thanks to Nisha’s aid, she was saved from harm.
  • A rogue flips back over a table in the room and jumps on it
  • Two rogues walk over by the mummy. “Bind him,” says the mummy, pointing at Cinder.
  • Harley stabs one of the hellhounds, then chops its head off and kicks it far away
  • Arael heals Nisha in a huge burst of healing
  • “Protect Ermola!” says Arael.
  • Janiven runs forward and shoots the other hellhound, killing it.
  • Reshan stumbles as he gets off the roof, but lands ok.
  • Then Reshan moves forward and shoots at the minions through the door.
  • He then reloads quickly and shoots again, killing his target.
  • The hellhounds’ bodies convulse, and the skin rips off of them.
  • Their skeletons stand up and attack Arael.
  • Nisha intercepts the attack, throwing him backward and holding up her arm. The skeleton dog bites her.
  • “Nisha, don’t!” yells Arael. She ignores him.
  • Rin uses his blessing hex on a skeletal dog.
  • It bursts into a cloud of green dust.
  • I pull Cinder behind me, then punch around the corner at the rogue there.
  • “Surprise, bitch!” I yell. I stagger her.
  • The mummy walks around the corner. “I knew you were a traitor!” He hits me with a barrage fire.
  • Nisha hears a voice in her mind. " Your allies are in trouble. Retreat." She shrugs off the spell.
  • The one I punched attempts to drink a potion. I punch her in the throat, crushing her trachea, and catch the potion.
  • Nisha protects Ermola again, nearly dying in the process
  • Harley moves to flank the other hellhound, then destroys it with her blades. She pulls out a potion.
  • Arael heals Nisha for 36 health.
  • Janiven steps around the corner and shoots another 2 minions dead.
  • Ermola’s eyes flash red and she sweeps with her sword while still on the ground.
  • She hacks through her foe, killing it.
  • Reshan shoots another thru the door. He reloads then shoots again, killing that person.
  • Nisha runs through the door, sees that Cinder and I are in bad shape and runs to Cinder, healing him.
  • She yells at the remaining minion “Surrender!”
  • The final rogue’s eyes glow red and she says in Abyssal “The Bastards of Erebus will drag you to hell before we surrender!”
  • “I find that agreeable!” yells Nisha.
  • Rin heals me with his hex.
  • I drink the potion I caught, then throw a shuriken into the throat of the mummy.
  • I then prepare to defend myself.
  • Cinder stands up behind me and blasts the mummy with a spike of ice thru the stomach, pinning it to the ceiling.
  • Bandages fall off the mummy’s face revealing a tiefling’s face underneath.
  • The rest of the minions begin a ritual, trying to summon power from the demon Mammon.
  • Harley attempts to stab one of the ritual casters, but is blasted back by a wave of fire. She stands up.
  • Ermola finally stands up, and attempts to attack that same ritual caster. She gets blasted back by the flames and slams into the wall.
  • Arael and Janiven run off.
  • Gorvio and Larko yell. They’d been left by the gate when Arael came in. They tried attacking ritual casters but also got knocked back.
  • Reshan tries to shoot the caster, but it fails to get past the barrier.
  • Then he touches his still-hot gun to Ermola to cauterize her and stop the bleeding.
  • Nisha attempts to run up to the one in the corner to attack
  • On the way there she feels a hand on her shoulder, which blasts her with negative energy.
  • A sorcerer appears next to Nisha.
  • She stops and attacks him instead.
  • Sorcerer casts an AOE thast hurts everyone but me.
  • Ermola would have died, but Nisha’s Glory spell blazes up and saves her (Nisha’s PC spent 2 Hero Points to save Ermola)
  • The sorcerer then makes a shadowy mace appear in his hand and attempts to hit Nisha but misses
  • I charge one of the ritual casters. I see the way her protective field is moving and discern the pattern.
  • I dodge thru the field and uppercut her jaw, slamming her head into the wall and killing her. (I crit and confirmed the crit for double damage.)
  • Cinder uses his wand of Snowball and staggers the spellcaster.
  • He can tell the spellcaster isn’t doing too great and tells the party.
  • Harley hops on the table next to the spellcaster, flanking him.
  • Then she sneak attacks him. She stabs her rapier into his brain, then stabs him thru the heart.
  • Janavin takes another shot. We walk out to find dead tieflings.
  • Larko is holding a bloody bastard sword aloft. “I got one,” he says. “Go Larko!” I cheer.
  • NIsha runs over to heal Ermola.
  • I walk over to the spellcaster’s corpse. It turns out to be Palaveen, the leader of the Bastards of Erebus.
  • “You deserve this fate,” I say to the corpes coldly.
  • We then explore the base.
  • We tell Janiven we should take the base for ourselves. She agrees.
  • As we explore, we find:
  • a huge, decorated chamber with everburning torches
  • A room with a table, all spattered in blood. Nisha is uncomfortable in this room due to her demonic condition which makes her drink blood (the PCs don’t know this yet).
  • A prison room with 16 children chained to the wall.
  • A kitchen well stocked with provisions.
  • A bunker room with lots of beds.
  • A locked room.
  • Reshan uses lockpicking tools to unlock the door.
  • It appears to be an office. Very plushly decorated. There’s a chest inside.
  • I use a key we took from Palaveen’s body to open the chest.
  • We discover a loose brick in the wall that opens a secret chamber.
  • Inside is a bedroom.
  • There is expensive wine inside the chamber
  • There is a letter near the bed
  • It threatens Palaveen to leave them alone or they’ll kill him.
  • We find a chest under the bed. There’s a note on top.
  • The chest has a ton of jewels, silveware, rubies, etc. The names of the victims the items belong to are listed on the note.
  • We debate whether to return the loot or keep it. The vote is about even.
  • I vote to return the loot.
  • In the end, the loot is returned, and we gain fame in exchange.
  • The kids in the cellar were a day away from being sacrificed.
  • Rin claims the office and bedroom for himself… and me. He seemed to be having a hard time adjusting to the idea of a “we” again.
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The Bastards - Part two (The Rin Files)

So you have come back to read more eh? I figured you would. These can be pretty exciting if I do say so myself, which I just did, hah. I am now writing to you from my new desk. As you may have guessed by reading this we defeated the Bastards of Erebus and lived. We also took their base. It was large, nice, and overall better put together than the chapel that we had been staying at. In the underground tunnels we found a nice office that I claimed for me. It had a secret bedroom behind it that I also claimed. Both rooms are very nicely furnished. I really like them. Also, I guess when I say I claimed it for me, I mean that I claimed it for Zarias and I. I am still trying to get used to that. 15 years is a long time to be alone and you get used to only fending for yourself. This is an adjustment and I just hope that he bears with me while I get used to it. I can see myself remembering who I was when I was last with him even though it isn’t the person that I am today. I think that he wants me to be that person and I don’t know if I can be anymore. It will be take some adapting for both of us to work as we are now. Anyways, I seem to be getting distracted. Let’s get around to the battle that I know you are all wanting to read out.
Rashaan has joined the fight fully now. He is able to run up and shoot one of the Hell Hounds. I heal Nisha and she attempts to jump back up. While she does this she is attacked by the hounds and starts to bleed. She is able to stop the bleeding and attempts to attack the beast by her. They have really strong skin and the attack bounces off. Damn. Zarias and Cinder sneak into the building and move towards the group inside. Cinder attacks with his ice attack and is able to kill one of them. When the group inside realizes that they are being attacked from inside they react in kind. The damn mummy attacks Cinder and he falls unconscious. One of the bastards starts to bind him. Harley moves up and does a fantastic move with her sword and is able to cut the head off of the hound near her. She kicks the head into the building. I really like this part. Anytime you can kick a severed head into a group of people that are trying to kill you is fun. They never know just how to take it. Ariel heals the almost dead Nisha while Janiven shoots the last hound with her bow. She is a great shot and kills it. Thank God, now we only have the few remaining people and a mummy to deal with. Not even 5 seconds after I think this to myself however the 2 hell hounds are re-animated as skeletons. The head even flies back and attaches itself. Fuck that. I reach over to one of the dogs and cast a healing spell. It explodes into a green and purple dust cloud. Hah, take that bitch. Nobody comes back from the dead unless I say they should. From inside the building I hear Zarias yell “surprise bitch”. This makes me smile. It is moments like this that show his real charm and intelligence. When he isn’t worried about what others perceive him as he is truly in his element. Ermola is attacked, but Nisha steps in to take the damage, but is badly wounded and falls unconscious. While Ariel heals Nisha once again Janiven and Harley kill the last hound once again. Zarias and Cinder attack the mummy once again. A giant ice spike shoves it into the ceiling (it was waaay awesome, but you would have had to have been there) and some of the head wrap falls away. We are able to see that it is a deformed Tiefling. I wonder what dark magic they used on it. We see one of the bastards kneel down in the corner. She starts a summoning prayer to Mammon. A barrier of fire erupts around her. Harley and Ermola run up to attack, but are both thrown back in a blast of fire. Nisha moves toward the bastard, but is attacked by an invisible hell knight that is in the room. She counter attacks the knight and it is wounded. I swing around to inside the door and cast an ice ball. It makes it through the barrier and kills the bastard. Cinder attacks the knight and with this distraction Harley is able to jump onto the table. She stabs him in the heart and cuts his head off. Finally, they are all dead. It was a bloody battle. I don’t think that I have been as worried for my group before as I was here. If it wasn’t for Janiven and Ariel I don’t know if I would have been able to keep everyone alive long enough. Back in my other life I never had as much of a need for healing as I do now. I will have to have further discussion with my patron about this. He has offered to teach me more in the way of healing. We start exploring the base and find out that it could be a great resource to keep. We decide to make this the center for the rebellion. We found the nice office that I am writing to you from, a giant room filled with beds, a kitchen/dining room and a prison cell. The prison cell is filled with the children that Nisha was so eager to save. They are all alive, which is good. No children should be caught up in this war. I would say that we should kill the ones who put them in here, but we already did. Hah.

Well, until next time. This has been another Rin files from Steve and Rin.

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Bastards of Erebus from Zarias's PoV Part 1(work in progress)

Having returned from our exploits against the bandits, we locked the prisoner we had taken in the pantry closet as Janavin requested. Rin decided to hit the prisoner with a sack of potatoes. Twice. He’s still the Rin I remember, but it’s fair to say that our time apart has made him more eccentric and perhaps less forgiving.
With the prisoner taken care of, Rin, Cinder, and I went in search of a wand store. I had heard Tales of a spell known as Mage Armor which would boost my ability to survive and come back. Cinder was in search of a more powerful wand. Rin just wanted to accompany us. Upon arriving at the wine store, I asked the clerk if he had a wand of Mage Armor. He said that he did, and that it would cost 750 gold.

Cinder at this point I decided to intervene with his golden tongue. I sometimes envy him for that. I can be very eloquent when I am writing, but I tend to be a bit awkward when I’m interacting with actual people. . Once again, Synder declared himself to be the sheriff asked if there was anything the one vendor could do to help him.

“The sheriff for who?” the wand Merchant inquired. “after all, I do have my political leanings.”

Cinder seemed taken aback at this question. No one else had bothered asking him this. Covering my mouth, I subtly coughed “the Dotori.” That faction would be the most logical for this region.

“Why, for the Dotori of course!” exclaimed Cinder, flashing a disarming grin.

“Hmm, I don’t support the Dotori,” said the wand vendor. “I’ve heard too many tales of corruption from them.”

“Oh, well my number one goal is to clean up the corruption and make the Dotori upstanding citizens,” said Cinder without missing a beat. How does he do that? I would have been floundering after that response.

“We’ll, if that is the case, then I would be happy to support your cause. You’re a friend of the Sheriff?” the wand vendor asked me.

“I am indeed,” I responded.

“Well then. You may have this wand of mage armor for free,” he informed me. I thanked him profusely for his generosity.

Cinder and Rin completed some additional purchases, and then we departed.

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