Natasha gave no consideration to where her companions might want to go. The memory of Indel Kyura, in the guise of an Acolyte of the God Glass, was the sole factor in determining their destination. They appeared with the precision of an assassin’s blade in the heart of the courtyard where ‘Nishaana’ had implored Ritual Leader Najellack to release her to join the Imperimundi’s army.
The courtyard milled with people. Temple staff, patients and merchants moving amongst the large array of stalls were overseen by a strong guard presence. A guard presence many time that of previous visits to the temple.
Far from going unnoticed, their arrival seemed to draw every eye. Norindial, unhurried and unconcerned with his surroundings simply wandered into the crowd.
That departure of the Mind Mage, and the attention directed at them was lost on Echo as she absorbed the place through every sense available to her. It was almost too much to accept that they had left a place where ‘Twilight was coming’ to a destination that somehow worried her more.
One particular detail sent thrills of dread through her as she reeled for what it signified. Without relief she recognised the niggling menace she had last felt in the Eastern Capital before setting out for Ell-Maine and Emalf hovered over the geography of Dawn.
She turned to Andrakasis with low, urgent tones and told him he should leave immediately because Satan was at Dawn. The once king of the East did not question the warning. Without hesitate he took his daughter’s hand and led her to one of the clothier stalls where his imperious stance and air of command did little to avoid attention.
The group watched as guards throughout the throng converged on the stall, expecting their ally might need their help, when there was an explosion of force from the telekinetic. Soldiers and passers-by sailed through the air as the protective sphere pulsed around a man that seemed as much Andrakasis, as when he had served Satan. The orb enclosing the him and his daughter rose from the clearing his power had made. His would be captors, in varying states of injury, climbed to their feet to see their quarry drifting out of the courtyard where sight could no longer threaten him.
Not all the guards had been focused on Andrakasis, but those that had approached the group were as distracted as the company themselves by the spectacle Andrakasis had made. An Enforcer stood officiously before them and demanded they accompany him to the Medicii Council to explain their relationship with the man that had just escaped.
Knowing Emalf, and his friends would not be coerced by demands or threats, Medicii Elidor stood to the fore. Identifying herself, she demanded she be taken to the Essenser.
As Illynis pushed forward to support the word of a woman whose attire was not that of a Loreguard (but rather a pale version of the lustrous garb she had worn in Ell-Maine), Enforcer Dannis Mellesandre’s voice cracked through the words of the other Enforcer.
His affirmation of the Aurar’s identity gave the his peers pause, but the moment of silence was followed by reminders of the council’s orders regarding potential threats and information relating to known enemies of the Pearl Temple. As Mellesandre and the group argued with the Enforcers, a figure radiating confident power silenced them without anything more than his arrival.
In contrast to the immediate wariness that the man’s arrival had roused in both sides of the argument, Enforcer Pentemus Morden almost jovially ended the argument with the announcement that the Essenser had commanded the people at the centre of the disturbance be brought before him without delay.
If the other Enforcers wanted to challenge the newcomer, it did not show. They deferred to a man whose presence alone was an authority that dismissed all others. Enforcer Morden apologised to the group and invited them to follow him without delay the Essenser, and after momentary debate over whether that was what they wanted, they followed the man whose name they had first heard in connection with the attack on Hammerfall.
For a warrior whose entrance had washed all confrontation from the groups argument with the other Enforcers, he was strangely boyish and as he spoke to them. He confirmed that he had been successful in bringing the Hedron of Doors from Hammerfall.
He was almost casual as he deflected accusations over the circumstances surrounding its acquisition, asserting that the Essenser had attempted to negotiate the dangers of the artifact from his kin more than once. It had only been after the jealousy with which the dwarves had guarded the item whose twin had been confirmed to turn whole regions into craters, that Morden’s company had been sent to take it by force.
He explained that the dwarves had brought arms against them rather than peaceful words, and one of their number had commanded the frigid magic that had killed a Loreguard. By the time the Hedron was in Morden’s hands, the dwarves had killed all bar one of the company. Morden’s surviving companion had defended Morden’s flight and had never been seen again.
As the rest of the group had listened to him sceptically, Echo had missed the entire exchange. With each physical step, she felt her mind slide deeper into a mindscape of malevolence. She knew what she courted was dangerous and that she should be afraid, but she was not. She fought strangely comforting feelings as she ventured into the mind of the devil.
She ‘stepped’ traversed memories and concerns, using her own memories and psyche as keys to unlock the barriers protecting the inner most worries of an arch devil. As the knowledge flowed, she realised that each memory of her own used this way was surrendered to the dark lord of the Hells, informing his plans. Seduced by the allure of a mind somehow linked to her past, and a blind hope that she would learn something of immediate value, she surrendered information she knew could be used against her and her friends.
Finally, fear prevailed and she drew back from the ecstasy of the dark ponderings, coming to herself in the second courtyard of the Temple of Dawn.
When Emalf had broken away from Morden’s escort and into the crowd, the Enforcer had called counsel after the warlock’s back. Despite assertions it was not acceptable to keep the Essenser waiting, Emalf had continued wading through the crowd until he reached the wolfen on the bench.
The wolfen looked displeased to have attention drawn to him and seemed on edge as Morden ordered the guard to consolidate his charges and join the escort. Echo, sensing that Emalf would rebel against heavy handedness placed a placatory hand on the Enforcer’s neck to assure him that the group would deal with their warlock friend.
When her hand touched the warrior, all words evaporated with an outrush of air. Excitement and fear joined as she recognised Satan in disguise. She did not know from where she dredged the wherewithal to recover from shock so quickly, but she knew that none of her companions realised what momentary contact had taught her.
Satan, for Echo could not think of the facade without thinking of the reality, afforded them the opportunity she requested, but Emalf ignored their calls even as Aurar marched toward him. Satisfied that the summoner’s companions could not do as she suggested, Morden ordered the temple guard forward.
As tension escalated, the group prepared to defend the impulsive warlock, only to see a wall of fire rage to life between the Emalf and the wolfen (Karnath) and the guards descending on them. Obscured by the encircling flame, the group saw the Enforcers, no doubt using their Dawn Bridges, ignore the deadly flames as they plunged through.
A moment later, the flames were gone, along with the Emalf and the wolfen.
Walls of pearl away, the two had stepped in an explosion of flame from the scullery fireplace. Servants cowered and fled before Karnath explained that a Nogard presence existed in Dawn because they had reason to believe their masters age old enemy (Satan) was in the Temple.
After the hurried discussion in which Karnath’s words implied that Maneiad himself had returned to Palladium, the two left the kitchens in different directions. It was in that moment that Emalf remembered he had wanted to transport Karnath a much safer distance, but had found a powerful magical gravity opposing him. Worse, he was certain that fire travel would not allow him to escape the power of the Hedron.
Emalf found the group had been detained until he could be located. Witnessing Enforcer Morden had lost much of his joviality, Emalf saw nothing to be gained in explanations and said nothing.
Danger hung in the air around Morden in a manner that all except Echo attributed to imagination.
The group did not know what Echo had said to the Enforcer, but it had transformed immediate repercussion into barely restrained menace. She had looked at the Enforcer expectantly, her expression resembling the one she adopted to enact ‘The Tower of Wills’.
Emalf joined those waiting for him awkwardly and they made their way in relative silence to the Essenser.
Essenser Caddis Mallean seemed to have displaced the entire Medicii Council, taking their audience chamber as his own. Behind the heavy desk that had been Admonisse’s before him, he used quill and paper to scratch down notes that no doubt had implications for one or more civilisations across Palladium. A couple of steps to each side of where he wrote, were two of his reported four Enforcers. Enforcer Morden, once again a character of easy charm ushered the group toward the chairs that the Essenser provided his guests.
He seemed surprised, but unworried by the choice most of the group made to stand in the face of the Essenser’s hospitality, as he made his way around the Essenser’s massive bench to stand nearer than his peers to the man, behind the left shoulder of the most influential man in the world. His position implied that the fourth Enforcer would have mirrored his position to stand at the Essenser’s right shoulder.
The dwarf, who choose to stand as he worked at a desk his predecessors had sat at, looked up. Something fleetingly like relief ran through his eyes as he asked the company where they had been. His eyes lingering on Aurar Elidor longer than the others.
The discussions that followed were complicated with the surprise that Natasha’s manipulation of ‘prophecy’, in ignorance of some of the parts of the message involved, to return them to the mortal world had somehow cost them more than a year in transit.
The guarded responses that surprise begot soon nullified any preconception that the Essenser would favour them as friends. As his humour dissolved, the head of the healers of Dawn grew short when Loreguard Elidor would not tell him where she had been, and his mood turned dark when she reported that she did not have the artifact she had been sent with Mellesandre to the Pirate Isles to retrieve.
With a decidedly paternal manner, he told Loreguard Elidor her report would need further detail and review before she could be reinstated, but effective immediately, she was to surrender her Dawn Ring and place herself at the Medicii Council’s disposal.
He was given ominous pause when ‘model’ healer Elidor declined to do as instructed. Before his outrage could manifest, Enforcer Morden leaned close to whisper in the Essenser’s ear. The dwarf had taken a moment to bring his anger under control and turned his attention to the wider group.
Though his words addressed the angel’s companions, the first of them were spoken with his eyes on the woman that had refused a command from the organisation that she was supposed to serve. The words, like the eyes behind them, ran with suspicion, as he asked why the company had been travelling with an enemy of Dawn, and where Andrakasis had gone.
Between lines uttered in tones of condemnation, the group grew tired of dealing with a man overseeing a place they knew to be within Satan’s influence. At every new point of the interchange, the group continued the theme that Orbray-Ell had begun and rejected the authority before them. Rejection framed in accusation of wrong doing.
When the group retaliated with details of events in Hammerfall, the Loreguard line that ‘some things are too dangerous to be left in the outside world’ answered them. He said the dwarves of Hammerfall, his people, had chosen their fate by refusing to see peaceful reason.
The groups refusal to accept his response wakened the height of annoyance in the Essenser. Tired of arguments he deigned to hear in good faith, he declared that ‘some people were too dangerous to be left in the outside world’. The first hint of where their audience was leading.
Throughout the debate, Echo had never once mentioned to her companions who Pentemus Morden was. By the time it became clear Satan might take their words as provocation for godly retribution, she could not decide whether he would more or less angered by her identifying him to them.
One thought led to another, and before long Echo became alarmed. She remembered telling Andrakasis that Satan was in Dawn and realised that whilst Andrakasis may or may not consider them his ëfriends’, that he would never abandon any part of his powerbase to an enemy. That if he was forced to put a portion of his resources into play, that he would play to win.
In that moment she became certain that Andrakasis could attack Dawn at any moment, she groaned inwardly as impetuous Emalf had broadly condemned the entire organisation of Dawn and asserted the Devil’s hand ruled Dawn.
Echo interrupted waning civility and unveiled threats, imploring the Essenser to see reason. Her address had carried a familiarity completely out of place for a woman that had supposedly never met Caddis Mallean, and rather than defuse matters her presumption caused the dwarf to glower more with each word.
Finally his grace was exhausted, he declared the group were amongst those too dangerous to be allowed to roam free in the world, and called for his guard to escort them to the forbidden vault in Dawn.
Emalf wasn’t about to be caged. He filled the area surrounding his friends with fire and swept them into the flame. In varying degrees of scalding, they appeared in Mellesandre’s own rooms. The group were taken aback when Echo revealed the identity of Pentemus Morden and how closely they hard courted destruction.
If they were alarmed that Echo had been so tardy with such crucial information, they were even more agitated as they argued over their escape from Dawn that Echo insisted she had to return to speak with the devil in Enforcer’s guise. Emalf blocked the door out of the chamber with a wall of ice, expressing anger that Echo would keep her secrets from her companions and then do deals with the devil.
Undeterred eyes possessed of a knowledge not of the current time told Emalf not to stand in her way. Without another word, she slipped out the first storey window to make good on what she had promised Satan.
She found Morden and the Essenser alone in the audience chamber, where she tried honour pledge to identify what I am to you, and what you are to me’ along with titbits from the future, as she knew it. She cursed her hollow memories as it became clear that she did not know enough of who she was or where she had come from satisfy the arch devil.
Inexplicably conflicted over her, Satan had her taken to the forbidden vaults, with the promise that he would gain for answers from her one way or another. Echo placated herself with the knowledge that she had done her best to do as she promised, and bought her companions time to escape in the process. The loss of her own freedom was a small price to pay.
Between the time when the door to the Essenser’s audience chamber closed and the the first shudders rocked the temple, Echo sent warning to The Blade for the group to keep moving because she Satan was no longer preoccupied with her.
In Mellesandre’s chambers the group were interrupted as they argued over what to do about the summoner and escaping, by the building as it heaved. It was in those moments they first considered taking from Dawn magical items to aid their quest or simply to deprive Satan of them.
As Dawn thundered, they made their way through the chaos to the vault entrance within the library. What guards they encountered obeyed Enforcer Mellesandre’s instructions to stand aside, and reaching the vault it was ‘Loreguard’ Elidor that convinced the librarian to admit them.
Within dark walls the antithesis of the light conducting pearl, the group were conscious that barriers designed to keep the world out, could also keep them in. The irony that they descended to the very place where the Essenser would have had them imprisoned went unmentioned.
Of the four sub vaults branching from the central stair well, the group paused at the first door to negotiate the lock. As ‘The Blade’ worked prophecy to open something that would not give way to the skills of common thievery, foot falls were heard descending from the library above.
With no place to hide and the door still barred to them, they stood in defiance of the Loreguard-Enforcer teams escorting a woman clad in red leather. Echo looked pensive as the light fell on her face, and surprised to find the group present, and moments later it was clear she was to be locked behind the very door that Natasha had plied the power of prophecy on.
Emalf commanded Echo’s captors to open the door and not interfere with them. Without the support of Illynis, Aurar and Mellesandre the guards would no doubt have brought to bear their famed might. Instead, when they hesitated before taking the action that was expected of them and the leader of the group chastised his subordinates has he leaped into action.
Aware that time was critical and Emalf needed her to help if he was to survive, something changed in her. What it was, none could put into words, but the entire company could see it in her eyes. It reminded Emalf of looking into the Nether Gate (what Andrakasis had called ‘Where All Things End’). In the fractions of seconds it took the thought to blossom, the Enforcer was gone.
Love her though he may, Emalf couldn’t help but shudder when she latter told him that she had removed the man from ‘The Message’.
Within the vault they found some of the casualties of Satan’s instatement of the Black Council in the Eastern Capital. Amongst the prisoners were Logica, Regent Lybual Nesai, the Dwarven Weapons Trader Elgror Arlek, and the former puppet king of the East. Logica and Lybual greeted the group with relief, even as they questioned the way the structure quaked.
Emalf immediately latched on to the Sequence members identity, remembering the many times her order had transported the group across space and time. But without her abacus Logica could not quantify the risk, much less transport them. So the company co-opted Echo’s former captors to gain entry to the other sub vaults to meet Logica’s needs.
Throughout the descent, the violence of the shaking escalated, and as more than one crack ruptured the stone of the stair well, the group knew that time was short. The building threatening to collapse, they scrambled to find what they sought, and various members of the group also kept an eye out for known artifacts that they either wished out of Satan’s reach, or thought might aid their cause.
In the end, what Logica needed could not be found. Reluctantly, Emalf turned to Auar Elidor and asked her to risk alerting the heavens by transporting them from the vault. Though the members of the group each found some strange item of dangerous magic they wished to take with them, Emalf insisted that all of it should be buried in what he hoped would be the rubble of Dawn. He told them that they would leave behind such destructive articles if they wished to benefit from Orbray-Ell’s power to save them.
Before the current of the Hedron’s power, Orbray-Ell’s celestial strength safely delivered all of them just outside the walls of Dawn where they could see the ominous red beam of light haemorrhaging demons as Hell itself bled into Palladium. The flagging angel explained that any greater distance may have seen them to the heart of the Hedron and Satan himself.
Assuming all would run from the doom in Dawn, it surprised the group when Mellesandre told them he had not given up on Dawn yet and would maintain a vigil from within the organisation for the time when Satan might be revealed and driven out. He told the group to hurry away and he would use the chaos to ensure that no one noticed them escaping.
That night Echo had dreamed of Satan’s confrontation with Andrakasis (see 132 Echoes Out of Time).
Also in this adventure:
Echo’s mind link with Satan yield the following information.
- Satan knows a super natural power held sway over Dwellen. He has returned to Dwellen once in response to an attack by this force. He would like to identify the source, but other priorities prevail, and the established coven presence in Dwellen is significant.
- Satan went to ‘The Cathedralis’ to be confronted by ‘The Oracle of Moonfall’. The cryptic wolfen had named the price of passage as too high for Satan to pay. She had mocked him about Mastema’s origins when he had asked how it was that Mastema had entered the light.
- He had seen Lucifer once since that time. The defected angel had told Satan that Mastema had taken a place in Ell-Maine and sought a way to gain admittance for him.
- Ritual Leader Najellack is a Viscera and is with Fortune. Satan is undecided what to do about the girl and finds her power/mastery of ‘the weapon’ alarming.
- Najellack also reported that Fortune would soon lead her army to begin the long walk to Mt Nimrod/Heavenspire to recruit in accordance with the prophecies that indicated the monster races would join the civilised world to march on Necropolis. From there, she plans to march directly into the Baalgor and crush all enemies in her path. The news has prompted Satan to have the Essenser of Dawn send more ëHealers’ (many directly serving Satan) to join her so he might topple the girl and Necropolis both.
- He has visited a few of the crypts where the defeated Old Ones were locked in slumber, before finding the culprit (Old One “Erva”) in the in the blasted sands of the Old Kingdom. There he witnessed for himself that an Old One was free of their prison. He knew Erva, and is certain that the creature, would have been driven to rise to a position of power. She would be one of the beings steering the world. He has scrutinised the actions of all the active gods, and found none of them particularly in keeping with the master he remembers. He is afraid in the manner of a terrified man grown from an abused boy that knows his tormentor is watching and waiting from the darkness. His terror exceeds this analogue with the knowledge that he has not gained the message and the ability to face Erva with like strength.
- Satan, entertains the idea of awakening one of the other Old Ones to earn their favour and protection if he cannot attain the message through Mastema’s work. The idea would be a last ditch choice, but one of the Hedron Runes rests on the Smited Continent, across the sea, so he can access the Crypt infallibly and expediently should the choice precipitate.
In gambling for this information, Echo revealed.
- Shah Dallan – the whereabouts and the possible alliance (Emalf and his communiques with the dragon)
- The death of the Angel Queen.
- Keeping the company of The Blade and who The Blade is.
- The value and importance of Emalf to the future and to the outcome of the war.
- Death of both Satan and Andrakasis – Tolmet winning the war and Echo’s future of Palladium.
- Connection and interaction with the message – visions and having been in Ell-Maine
- Mirror Witch as spirit/power – her whereabouts, who she was in relation to Satan and the connection with Illynis.