The Fall of Faith

Down the Rabbit Hole

The darker it gets, the harder to see

Journal of Fynias; Master of Cold

You know your lifes taken an odd turn when a lesser being has tried to take residence in your body. Its actually infuriating having an interloper presume to give me help. He has no concept as to what I am and what I am capable of. I gave thought to freezing it out of me but it wasnt worth dirtying my clothes. But Im getting ahead of myself; Lets take a step back shall we

We entered the cube to find a tastefully appointed room with clockwork figures and paintings. These paintings depicted the history of the Cube. It seems it began on the Mechanis plane and then shifted into hell. Hell believes in possession being nine-tenths of the law and now the denizens of the planes have been phase shifting in this thing for at least 2000 years of earth time.

It seems the Cube jumps to a plane and sends out its imps, demons and Harvesters to find as many bodies (and possibly souls) as possible and then makes its next leap. But I think this I time is different; we have learned of a prophesy. On the day when salt is shared no more; demon blood will bring the 2nd son to earth and man will be gone.

Unfortunately, This is the land of salt.Weve also found some of the most ridiculous traps the world has seen. The painting, a simple riddle trap which held no mystery to me. The Moving Room, where the passengers of a seemingly normal transport room are slammed into a wall, poked with spikes and then left to drown. Finally, the shifting floor with phase spider, a giant room that acts as if its on a pivot and slams into the ceiling or dumps you into an underground pool filled with giant oozes. Don?t forget the phase spider lurking in and out of existence.

There was a pay off though, we met something, something special. An Angel: Shel-Rial – Messanger of thorain. The same Thorain, that our Cleric worships, (I could feel the Paladins heart soar and plummet as he desperately hoped this to be a member of the house of Selune.) Shel-Rial had come here to stop a great evil, instead he has been added to the fuel of this place, his body tortured and drain. He lives in limbo now, still pinned to this infernal machine with his own blade. We were asked to carry on his mission and the usual oaths were sworn.

I do find my companions intresting though:

The Hunter – Who hid his teifling origin from us through use of a simple glamour mask. At first, I thought him to be a bit of a bumbler, until I saw him fire his bow. Mastery, takes skill, patience and intelligence, he is a master bowman and for that I will have to respect him.

The Cleric – Who thought to lecture me on the origins of energy. He prays to a deity to a modicum of power; I take it from the weave itself. Negative Energy and Positive energy are both the flipside of the same coin. They are to wield the powers of life and of death. When he wages war on a man; in defense of his own life, he doesnt shed a tear. You’d think at his age he’d understand that, immortality is squandered on the elder races, if I had such a boon. However…His armor is ancient and obviously an item of great power? perhaps a token?

The Believer -A blessed son of a blessed union. I?ve known his story for quite sometime. Hes impressive and a good warrior to boot. I was generally shocked when he decided to not go after the futile screams of a few peasants. Perhaps, a streak of logic clouds the sound of angels singing.

This is our ragtag group running through a maze without any real direction other that the knowledge of the right thing to do. It will be intresting to see how long a moral compass takes to get you lost.

Comments

Something is very wrong. There is no longer any sense to this.

This one is clearly not where he belongs, doing what he is intended to do. All his former and current lives, he is an arrow, pointed where he needs to be sent and fired in the blink of an eye. These are the things that make sense to a man. These are the things that balance on a merchant’s ledger. That a man can aim himself based on some outre compass now is irrelevant, the form and function must needs always be the same. This one loses his place in the scheme of things, in the force of Will that brought him here. A man no longer knows why he sees what he sees and does what he does.

This cube, this series of thought-twisted cells, is the singular dream of a mad man, of a Will gone horridly awry. That alone is of no import, but it is clear that the other one, the Will that brought a man and his compatriots together is also insane, is not here for balance, the Yang to another’s Yin.

The Will (of Evil for lack of a truer term) eats. It must sustain itself, grow stronger, become more. It is forever in the state of becoming, of birth. It seeks more with the simple imperative of a hungry babe. It’s minions scour the lands, blighting them, to provide all they can, and deep within we listen to the hellish chewing and rending that goes on in the belly of the beast. The shining knight himself suffers to hear it, and this makes no sense. The god-touched stout one whispers to his keen-edged hell blade and urges us to move ever onward and downward towards the threshing teeth themselves. His blade is potent and whorls of magic seethe up from the iron, but it can speak the tongues of devils, and it knows their secrets. No good end will come of such fell-touched metal. I’ve seen the shining knight glare at it, for such as he can sense enemies long before blood is drawn.

And then this one was consumed by the Evil Will itself. It moved as a heat shimmer oasis does, just on the horizon, but it approached and before there was time for thought or deed, it was WITHIN. It searched, prowling and snarling, through this one’s mind and lives. It plumbs dark corners and sought out anything it wished. A tremendous imperative of ‘WHO ARE YOU’, and the terrible, terrible frustrations it felt when a man’s answers have no basis and offer no help. For all its might, it asked this one the absolute wrong questions. A man felt its pure rage and frustration as it drew this one’s own arrows to drive the others down to death.

The shining knight, again feeling what cannot be seen, realized the game and moved castle to king and countered, and the Will fled this one all in a torrent. The heat shimmer was still visible when a man’s eyes cleared again, flashing this way and that, catching the light in the myriad colors of the archmage’s clothes.

An archer has lost his way, however, encounter aside. Nothing feels real, all is bathed in a rich man’s oil, and there is no sense of direction or path now. Whatever Will bound us together chose poorly as we are ill-suited to the task. Impossible physics counter our every move. This one cannot feel the strings and webs of traps when entire rooms are a snare. And then there was the God-touched herself.

She screamed out her light, the fierce, beautiful, and uncontainable might of being near God itself. Even gods and their chosen can be fed to the idiot child in the cellar however, and her blood fed it as much as this one’s had. Snared in her own impossible trap, held firm, and held forever. The shining one and the stout priest, now armored with heavenly visions and promise, steeled themselves to forget what was seen before and to commit to only seeing their God’s road. The archmage, now wrong and unseemly, now again his own contrary self, leads them further into the bloody shadows that do not resemble the light and dark a man has lived his life in.

And the one calling himself Jaq’n Hahhr turns from the doomed angel and follows his blood-brood down, because now there are no other options, the way out has become the way in, and all the world is a trap.

Or a hungry mouth.

Down the Rabbit Hole
 

Like the Abyss, the more this mystery is solved the more it unravels. Cael fights against the urge to apply logic to chaos. Everything he has learned the past few years has taught him just that… sometimes we must accept what we do not know as fact… sometimes we must embrace what we cannot know as absolute. Faith is not needing proof, and it is only faith that can lead to victory in this war of will.

The dark one collects himself and gestures deeper into the maze, the cries of innocents vibrate along the walls and cut easily through the prince’s mail. They must be forgotten for now if they are to have a real chance of survival. Cael tears himself away from their screams to search for the heart of this abomination and put an end to it forever, his prayers of protection lingering in the acrid air behind as they move on.

The door guarded by the horrible wire trap leads us to a sitting room that would not be out of place in some wealthy merchant’s manor house. All the trappings of comfort and hospitality are the gateway to unspeakable horror.

Cael studies the décor, the collection of intricate clockwork machines, the chessboard, the statue. Every detail, as he has been so rigorously taught, holds insight into the mind and soul of his enemy.

Framed oils on canvas depict the journey of this vessel. As suspected its origins are in Mechanus, but it has been bent to service the powers of Hell. Numerous worlds, both known to the young prince and not, are shown with small placards indicating the date relevant to the Astral Calendar. Cael tucks his helm under his shield-arm to breathe a bit easier as he studies the room trying to penetrate the cloak of ambiguity that shrouds this place. A click and the sound of steel on steel rouse him as Fynias unravels a small puzzle allowing us deeper access to the cube. Cael fixes his helm and takes the point allowing the scout a brief and well-deserved respite. Cael’s eyes catch sight of the pawn sitting in the palm of the statue’s hand, telling that the pawn is the answer to the riddle. We are of little significance to the one controlling this place, and that underestimation will be its downfall.

The descent is steep, and the group passes several landings before they reach the bottom. The hope being that the closer they get to the heart of the cube the closer they will be to destroying it. Then, through the constant tremors in his soul, Cael fixes on a point in the distant black. For an instant he can feel it… see it. Before he can react to look upon his foe it pounces. Sheer force of will imposed on the prince’s soul, trying to usurp his very being… but he is calm. She is always with him, always watching over her son as close as if he were kneeling at Her feet. Her hand falls gently on his shoulder as he closes his eyes and as if struck by a bolt of lightning the parasite is thrust out and its hatred is felt all around the prince as it recoils. Cael smirks just a bit under his helm as the abhorrence dissipates around him. No doubt it lashed out first at one of the faithful. What a nice trophy one such as Cael would make. What satisfaction it must have anticipated as it prepared to consume him like so many common folk before. But for someone who knows so well the power of Selune’s love, it is folly to think of ever testing Her anger… a lesson he wonders if the master of this house has learned. Unmarred by its first failure, the will of Xoscoratu lashes out at Jaq’n. His body shivers as his will is overmatched, but he fights it furiously. Jaq’n’s refusal to bend gives Dorak and Cael the time to drive out the intruder. Blackened crossbow bolts streak through the air, shattering against mithral. Cael is careful not to harm his new comrade in arms, and he is able to restrain the archer for Dorak to purify his spirit.

Cael helps Jaq’n to his feet catching a glimpse beneath the scout’s hood for the first time. The truth about his identity is unmasked, his Tiefling bloodline – and the implications of his lineage – are unmistakable. He is the other side of the coin to Cael. In truth, Cael had never met a Tiefling, he had only heard the descriptions and prejudices of others. At best they were not to be trusted, and at worst… Cael was not so eager to judge the scout for his parentage. For his part the Jaq’n has been a valuable and trustworthy ally in the brief time their paths have crossed, and Cael was content to take his actions as a reflection of his heart.

Though their foe’s presence was still evident, it seemed as though it had given up the attempt to ensorcel one of the group, the last glimpse being that of Fynias’ disdain as if the mere attempt of a lesser mind to touch him was contemptible. A feeling the prince mirrored as well.

Through the door at the bottom the party found a scene so shocking in its blasphemy that Cael could only stare, begging Selune’s wisdom to contain the fury of his heart. The prince has been company to others of this angel’s kind. Solars, Planetars, Devas, the celestials closest to the deities they serve. To see one bound in chains, impaled with her own sword was enough to unnerve even the most composed of men. Had she been a steward of the Bright Lady, he surely could not have contained his anger.

He addressed her in the celestial tongue, a language of purity and benevolence whose light dulcet tones carry as much power as a dragon’s roar. She was weak, being slowly sapped for the nourishment and pleasure of Xoscoratu. They vowed to find the means to safely remove the sword from her body, the Circle of Heaven, and return… hopefully before it was too late.

Dorak continued to speak with the angel while Cael opened a small silk pouch filled with silver dust. It was the only thing he thought might help this magnificent being, so he performed a sanctification of the holding area with the hope that Selune’s vigilance would be enough to minimize the angel’s suffering.

As if the consecrated knight needed any further incentive to solve the mystery of Xoscoratu, this could not be ignored. Cael turned to Dorak, and with a slight nod pledged a sacred pact to see justice done for the dwarf’s Church. He closed the visor on his helm and they moved deeper inside the cube.

Down the Rabbit Hole
JJMOSQUERA

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