The Fall of Faith

Far From Home

Hours passed as Cael proceeded with the cleansing of the cult’s altar room. The stench of burning flesh was overwhelming as the cultists and their foul summoning were consumed in the summoning circle in the center of the room.

As they were swallowed up by the fire Cael made a prayer of offering to Selune. The silver dust he surrounded the circle with began to glow, and as it faded so did the remains, until there was nothing left. The stone altar suddenly rattled and crumbled to dust revealing a trap door beneath it.

Cael opened it at climbed the ladder to the sublevel below. It was a small cramped area with some storage crates and iron cells no doubt meant for the cult’s less willing sacrifices. Making his way around the room he noticed a cloak on the ground. Cael examined the fabric quickly, it was Father Dariel’s, he was sure of it. The cloak itself raised some questions, but they would have to wait. When he pulled the cloak off the ground it reveal a shimmering “pool” which, thanks to his recent teachings, Cael knew was some kind of portal. Surely Fr. Dariel had gone through, so there was no choice, Cael stepped in.

Cael felt as though he was being pulled across the night sky, and then a sudden stop and he was on one knee in a dark room. After a moment his eyes adjusted to the lack of light and Cael saw that he was in a sort of basement. He found the door leading up, and shoved it aside. To his dismay the body of a slain dwarf rolled away from the door as he did so.

With that realization the sounds of carnage became apparent to the young prince and in an instant a hurried dwarven priest leapt through what was left of the front wall of the house and brandished his waraxe.

His armor and shield were emblazoned with runes and symbols very reminiscent of Clangeddin Silverbeard, the Dwarven Lord of Battle. Cael could sense at once that he had met a friend, if he could convince the good cleric that he was not responsible for the death of his kinsman. Their eyes drifted upward as a cruel and vicious creature clawed its way around the broken rooftop. Cael pointed and indicated that the wounds on the fallen dwarf must have been caused by the treacherous imp.

With that matter settled, they exchanged a hasty introduction, but all of the questions they had for each other would have to wait as the sounds of battle grew louder. They rushed outside to see a huge creature towering above the buildings it was laying waste to.

Without a word Cael and Dorak charged toward the massive spider-like creation. Rushing through the streets Cael remembered reading about dark mages who would construct such creatures to serve their hellish masters on the Prime. They are fearsome things imbued with the power of the lower planes. Cael raised his celestial sword to the sky and called on Selune’s blessing; moments later he was running through a demolished building to confront of the Retriever as huge sphere streaked overhead and exploded around the creature’s head. Whatever aid Selune had sent was certainly effective, as the giant legs of the living machine buckled and fought to hold its massive body aloft. Cael saw the opportunity to end its wrathful attack and charged. As he did so it unleashed a column of hellfire upon him and the force of the flames drove him down to one knee under his shield.

Cael emerged from the fire only to see two of the Retriever’s cleaver-like legs descending on him. They cut across just in front of his face, but Selune’s blessing turned them aside causing them to become stuck in the ground. Spurred by Selune’s favor and Dorak’s prayers of valor, Cael planted his foot in one of the crooks of its chitin-like armor, and as it freed the leg, he used the momentum to lead and slash the creature’s underbelly.

Cael’s sword cut deep, and the creature began to loose control of its weight. Cael ran clear as it came crashing down where he was standing a moment before.

There was no time to celebrate the victory, however, as he and Dorak both saw another Retriever closing on them.

Again he charged at the mighty legs of the huge creature, and again eldritch fire erupted above his head. The fight was quick, and similar to the first as Cael and Dorak finished the second in short order and both seemed none the worse for wear. Cael climbed up the broken wall of the building next to him and thrust his sword in the air as a salute to the sorcerer, who he would come to know as Fynias, who had so spectacularly aided their fight.

Shortly the Vizier of the town, which they would learn was called Maphastu, Orach D’rann came upon them. He was more than appreciative of the efforts made on his town’s behalf, but more danger was looming as their attention was drawn to the colossal cube that lay half buried in the sand just outside the town.

The group came together and decided to rest and gather their strength before investigating the cube. The night brought more imp attacks, and were it not for the sorcerer Orach would have been swept away to a horrible end.

As always, Cael was waiting for moonlight before making his evening prayers. Though he did not know entirely where he was, he was certain that the Lady of Silver was watching over him. In the mean time Cael thought he would take the time to get to know his new companions, see what he could discover about Fr. Dariel’s cloak, and what strange circumstances brought them all together. It could not be coincidence that the three of them were ushered here in the midst of a town under siege by some unholy power. It could not be coincidence either that Father Dariel had come through the same portal who knows how long before.

Cael began taking off his armor and turned to address his newfound friends…

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Excerpt from the Memoirs of Dorak the Axe Bearer, Thane of Karak Belgrin

Bursting out into the streets of this City of Sand, I find myself utterly lost. The Sun, the Blessed Sun, that which has guided me all this time is changed somehow. Although I still feel my connection to Thorain, I know I’m not home anymore. I’m not on The Continent. Araby perhaps? No… the Sun tells a different tale.

There is noise and clamor all around me. I see bodies of man and dwarf, with at least one more follower of Thorain. These look like warriors, not priests, and… AND! They carry the Symbol of Thorain from the past! The same ancient version that shines on my armor. Did I move not to another place but another time?!? That cannot be… Can it? The Gods are truly powerful, but to move through Time itself? Perhaps there is another explanation… but it will have to wait.

I head towards the sounds of battle. I see buildings smoldering from fire and destruction. Partially collapsed walls are adorned with brutally pierced bodies of what I assume to be locals. But I can’t seem to get anywhere. Perhaps a higher vantage point could help me understand what is going on.

I hear the sounds of noise coming from a nearby building. It is badly damaged but perhaps I can get some answers from whoever’s inside. I barge in ripping the door of the hinges for effect, for it was already broken. Inside I came across a knight in shining breastplate with a weapon drawn and a body of a dead dwarf at his feet. My first instinct is to attack the interloper, but somehow, something tells me he is NOT an enemy. In fact, an expert glance at the dwarf’s wounds makes it clear a sword did not do that. I merely say “Follow me, Knight!” and head up the stairs to get a better view. He stands dumbfounded for a second – probably shocked by the entire scene – but he shrugs and follows just the same.

Breaking open the roof door the two of us are welcomed with a horrific sight. The town is under siege by a monstrous insect-shaped machine with large, sharp arms and unholy aura. A quick glance between the Priest and the Knight and both of us know what needs to be done. Without a word I throw our blessings and run for the source of the carnage.

The battle seems brutal. The locals are torn to shreds, and overheard we hear screams of men and women being plucked from the ground and carried away by grotesque imps. We attack the huge machine that’s tearing through the city. From a distance unexpected help arrives, for bursts of eldritch energy weaken the monster and with a few short swings it is brought down to its knees. The victory is short lived however, for flying bodies of unfortunate victims make it clear another one of these monsters lingers nearby.

“I am Dorak.” “Name’s Cael.” Two brief introductions followed by a nod and a charge. I’ve found a comrade in arms for the moment. Good, for the task is huge. We come across our target and again the story repeats itself. With the aide of a wizard in the distance, we bring the creature down, and the sounds of chaos subside, leaving an eerie silence and a ruin of a town. The Knight jumps to the top of the fallen carcass and salutes the wizard in the distance. I shake off the dust and we make our way towards our unknown helper.

When we reach the outskirts of town we find a small caravan and inside the ruler of the now-fallen city and a wizard named Fynias. This stranger seems to have recently appeared in this place just as I have been called. We exchange brief introductions only to have our full attention drawn to the actual source of the problem. In the distance, not too far from the town, a huge, mile-wide cube rests partially embedded in the sand. It is clearly not from here. It is clearly an unwelcome sight. And it is the source of the problem – the source of the imps, the constructs, and something much more evil. I sense this is the reason Thorain sent me here. Cael, my comrade and Knight, does too. For now the sun is setting. But tomorrow our task is great. There is inkling of impending doom, and a story reveals itself – a prophecy of a world’s End.

Far From Home
CaptainMonstrous

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