Turns out that my hosts are a group that like to call themselves the Word of Hadar and claim to be an ancient sect of counter-reformists against the Church. I know this because they ranted about it at length. Apparently the modern church (I assume Adariel but they weren’t clear) staged a coup of some kind way back in olden times and something something with the king of this or that or some other blah blah blah assassination yada yada yada. Whatever they were winging on about they certainly are enthusiastic about it. Since seventy percent of them seem to be pagan barbarians I’m not sure how their theology works out – I’m sure it’s very complicated and all makes total sense. The import thing to know about them is that they’re true believers and everyone else is wrong and they’re heroes and everyone else is bad.
Oh, and also they’re the only ones keeping the entire universe from being destroyed. Which honestly has to be exhausting. All that responsibility on your shoulders? Whoo boy. Remember that shadow-beast that was causing all those problems out at the Whiterock cabin? Sure you do, it was a whole thing. Turns out there’s a lot of those things, like an infinite number of them, that live beyond the borders of reality (apparently reality has borders) that would like nothing more than to slip through cracks in . . . something . . . and come through to destroy our world. Or corrupt it in some way. Or corrupt it and then destroy it.
They pontificated at length about how these things from beyonder don’t really exist in the way we understand it so that magic doesn’t work on them – except when it does, in which case it’s the only thing that can stop them. Maybe you need to learn special magic? These creatures manifest in a limitless variety of forms – from ravenous horrors that consume everything they see, to hyper-intelligent malign entities that feed off the negative emotions. One thing they all common is their predisposition for causing pain to all living things. But don’t worry, these Word of Hadar people keep them away with their heroism and specialness. Aren’t we lucky?
The woman who was haranguing me is called Heinmarkt (sounds like I surname but I heard her called nothing else) and the reason she looks like she’s deathly ill is because she is. I was told that she’s a mighty wizardess and a killer of many unnamable horrors but she’s dying of a wasting disease that one of these abominations inflicted her with. If you ask me that calls into question her status as a powerful doer of magic – if you can’t cure yourself of one measly wasting disease called down by elder evils what kind of mage are you really? Anyway, even though she’s deathly ill (literally) they dragged her ass out here because of how important this mission is.
And what is that mission you ask? Well as the dying lady with no first name tells it I caused this all by taking off the Whiterock family ring. I explained to her that I didn’t take it off, it was taken from me on account of every four to six months all my shit it stolen either by the legal authorities or by some murderous cult or other but she still seemed intent on blaming me for some reason. Once the ring was off the Whiterock creature (which they called alternatively the Faceless Butcher or the Faceless Devourer – point is it ain’t got no face) was free to start doing , you know, weird creature stuff that resulted in it calling down from the heavens a servitor creature. All the metal shit around here from the not-meteor was the shell of that creature. But don’t worry, it wasn’t killed, the shell is made to smash apart – it just protects it from the fall. She went on to shriek at me that the creature had been sent here to kill me specifically.
“It doesn’t have very good aim them.”
She didn’t care for that comment “The Whiterock manifestation knew were you were going to be – it set into motion it’s minion arrival here weeks before you ever decided to come this way. It knows what you’re going to do before you ever think about it!”
“But didn’t this thing crash here weeks ago? That’s even worse aim.”
She cared for that even less “You have no idea the power of the entities we’re dealing with here! You should be . . .”
I held up my hand to forestall any more hysterical lecturing about ancient, powerful, evil entities with power that rivals, or surpasses that of the Gods themselves, such that they could destroy an entire world with a sneeze “Fine, whatever, so who were those other people you were killing? Minions of this Whiterock thing?”
Abolere took up the narrative “No, those men were the Circle of the Pure. Nearly five hundred years ago, an aging dwarf inquisitor of Vultur was exploring these very mountains. After spending a century bringing justice to the wretched scum of the world, he sought transcendent decontamination in the cold, desolate beauty of the natural mountains. As he was exploring deep within these hills he found something far stranger than cold rock, he found . . .”
“Good Gods, never mind! I don’t want to hear anymore longwinded bullshit about your secret societies of space rock gathering, I get it you’re all very extraordinary, I’m really impressed. But let me ask you this, if any of this is true why aren’t the Gods doing anything about it?
Heinmarkt barked a bitter laugh “Before the coming of man Eltara the Silent God tried to stand in the way of Ityak-Ortheel, commonly called the Elf Eater, and was blasted from existence! Her Godly essence was absorbed Shothrogast the Voice of Hargat and gave birth to the twin abominations of . . .”
I held my hands up “Sorry, sorry, that one was my fault, I should have expected something like that. Bottom line it for me folks, is the world screwed because the ring was taken from me? It’s probably still in Three Rivers if you want to get it and bring it to me. That would really be nice actually, make sure you get my other stuff too. Most of it I don’t really care about but I had a sword, a robe, and another ring that were all magic as well. Last time I saw them . . .”
Heinmarkt was literally spitting mad “You FOOL!!! You should never be in a situation where the ring can be taken from you! Never! The fate of the world depends on it! You should never travel anywhere, never even go outside! You should be sequestered deep under the earth in a secret locale in the care of an order of monks, levitated off the ground perpetually with your hands bound in cloth so that . . .”
I sighed “Well the ring is gone, so is the world going to be fucking destroyed or what?”
She blinked “What? No.”
“Okay so we need me to help you find and kill this new monster?
Abolere shook his head “No, we’ve already slain the minion of the Butcher.
I gestured impatiently “So what is it that you people need from me? What are we doing here? Why are you strong-arming me into listening to this bullshit?”
“The Whiterock wizard barely even knew what he was doing! He had no idea the power he was meddling with. The magic in that ring was only just strong enough to contain the evil and hedge it out of our world – we know the proper way to handle this. We have studied the ancient texts and . . .”
I motioned for her to hurry things along “What do you need from me?”
“The Cerulean Sign must be inscribed on your body.”
“What like a tattoo?’ She nodded “Why the Hells didn’t you just say that?! You’ve been screaming at me for hours about Himham and Blizblaz and King Blunrst shit that happened hundreds of years ago. Next time just lead with ‘hey we need to give you a tattoo or the world will explode’ what the fuck is wrong with you people?” I started undressing “Get your ink guy up here and let’s do this.”
Abolere looked startled “Uh, it’s not necessary, or wise, for you to disrobe.”
“I made my choice, now let’s get this show on the Gods damn road!”
Funds: 6642 gold
Inventory: Bag of Holding, +2 Distance Light Crossbow, traveling outfit, Ring of Invisibility, potion case, potions (Protection from Evil, Cure Moderate Wounds x2) Blessed Robes, Vampire Hunter’s Cloak, +1 Mithril Holy Undead Bane Sword-Cane
Revenge List: Duke Eaglevane,
Piltis Swine, Rince Electrum, watchman Gridley, White-Muzzle the worg, Percy Ringle the butler, Alice Kinsey , “ Patch”, Heroes of the Lost Sword, Claire Conrad, Erist priest of Strider, Riselda owner of the Sage Mirror, Eedraxis, Skin-Taker tribe, Kartak, Królewna & Bonifacja Trading Company, Hurmont Family, Androni Titus, Greasy dreadlocks woman, Lodestone Security, Kellgale Nickoslander, Beltian Kruin the Splithog Pauper, The King of Spiders, Auraluna Domiel, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee, Helgan van Tankerstrum, Lightdancer, Bonder Greysmith, Pegwhistle Proudfoot, Lumbfoot Sheepskin, Lumber Consortium of Three Rivers, Hellerhad the Wizard, Forsaken Kin, Law Offices of Office of Glilcus and Stolo, Jey Rora, Colonel Tarl Ciarán, Mayor Baras Haldmeer, Rindol the Sage, Essa, eyeless hag, Baron Saltwheel, Baron Harmenkar, Colonel Tarl Ciarán’s wizard soldier, Victor, Beharri, Cebuano, Mayor Eryn, Chimera Trading Company, maker of the manacles, Calvados Eure, Law Offices of Lampblack and Brimstone, Peronell Missplitter, Nightmare Hag