On Sunday, 6 January 2014 Neal Erickson (koibu0) released a teaser of the new Solum campaign. This was a result of three characters in the party dying on week 39 of the previous DnD campaign and a decision, that creating 3 new 8th level character to join the remaining character, Abigael Aidelbaum, is a bad choice.
Pain. It wasn’t as easy getting up as it used to be. Knees once used to lifting a twisted mass of muscle and fat now groaned under the wasted frame. His hunched posture was now a function of age rather than deformity, and a few wispy gray strands were all that remained of his once oily-black, if not patchy and sparse, hair. The decrepit husk of a man hobbled over to the large stone window that overlooked the city from seven floors up and embraced the cool night air blowing in. A long time ago he would have needed a warm fire or large furs on even the most pleasant autumn night to warm his misshapen hide.
Valesburg stood at the base of the tower, its dark streets lit only by the torches of passing patroles. Once this was a thriving city filled with lights, laughter love and magic. A lifetime ago this city was a mecca for wizards everywhere. Decades ago, you couldn’t walk four blocks without bumping into a wizard excitedly bouncing from shop to shop looking for exotic components for bizarre arcane rituals. Today, Valesburg now stood as a symbol of the power of Voraci, and as a warning to those that might cross her officers.
The Cleric slipped on a black velvet robe, not for the warmth but because it was time. Time to commune with his dark mistress, the one whose presence burned inside him. It was in her name he had conquered, in her name he boiled alive those deemed to be ‘traitors’, as loose of a definition as that was these days, and in her name he ruled.
Padding out of the candle lit room that served as his bedchamber now, The Cleric descended stairs that spiraled within the heart of the tower. Going downstairs was always much easier on his knees than going up, and The Cleric wished for, not the first time, that the damable dark elf that once called this place home had taught him the secrets of the tower; secrets now lost ot the world. The thought of his former master brought the slightest of smiles to his lips as The Cleric remembered a certain night seven decades ago.
The beasts awakened that night were almost all dead, the few survivors had disbanded and fled to the relative safety of their lairs. Nobody had seen Lord Morrow or any of his Dragon’s Bane weapons in a dozen years, but the occasional dead wrym fueled rumors of his life; although, what he could be after, beyond the murder of dragons, chromatic and metallic alike, nobody knew. Armies had risen and fallen and in their wake destruction had blown across the realms of man and elf, reaching to the great river in the east Draconian laws had been put in effect, and anybody caught practicing magic, or harboring one who does, was brought to Valesburn to learn their lesson - except for the children. Gifted children taken at an early age were raised by Lord Seacrest far in the north.
Some conquests, like Palanthas, were difficult. Stubborn people who didn’t know when to cut their losses. Others, like Tide’s End, were easy. The king of the Stormtide Kingdom had taken one look at the flight of blues above his city and given over his whole kingdom in exchange for the safety of his precious city and people. “He might not have been pleased by the results” mused The Cleric remembering fondly the twisted pleasure he received at the expense of the queen and her children.
Reaching the bottom of the stairs, the Cleric once again reflected on his desire for power over this tower. He knew of some secrets, but there were so many lost to him. “Sieth Loras” he spoke to himself and the floor shifted, opening to reveal a staircase leading below ground. One of the first orders of business on slaying his former master had been to cleanse the basement of the horrors that, not lived, no, that would be too generous, but existed for a time. Creatures created inside out, monstrosities of teeth, bile and bone brought into a world of pain and suffering, to limp away their precious days or hours, crying out in fear at the sight of their brethren being subjected to the experiments of his whims. Freezing flames, neither voids, demons and horrors from planes unknown and forgotten. Ys, Voraci was the goddess of death and destruction, but that man even horririfed her. “Good riddence” he thought as he stepped up to the alter.
Even before his knees truck the floor, The Cleric was in a trance. Eyes rolled to the back of his head as he swayed on his knees.
“My humble servant,” purred a voice of warm oil, “Tonight is the night. The child will be born. She is the one who can undo everything.”
The Cleric rocked back and forth, his body moved by the fever within. “Yes my Queen”.
“The future is uncertain. The child may yet be brought into the fold. If she cannot, you must end the threat and destroy her.”
“How will I know the child, mistress?”
“She is masked from divination, you must find her with your eyes. Her wrist bears the markings of her birth. Find her. She cannot be lost.”
As always, The Cleric came to consciousness in a heap on the floor, uncertain if the dream he experienced was reality or a hallucination. Once, the first time, he had made the mistake of ignoring the dream. He started his assent of the stairs, his feeble body barely able to make the climb. The Cleric forced himself to put his mind elsewhere, to replace the pain with memories. Memories of a different time returned for an instant. Of a time where his slurred speech and misshapen body brought him ridicule and laughter everywhere he went. Of a time when his services as a cleric of light brought him temporary relief from his shame and guilt with the cries of joy of his patience. Soon forgotten cies of joy. Cries of joy that would inevitably be silenced and eventually join the others that would throw rocks, would call out names, that would cast him into his lonely service. He had friends too, for a while, until they too turned on him, bringing him to his former master.
But that was a lifetime ago. Voraci had shown him the truth of the world, that those with power live while those without simple suffer. To think about it now was almost a joke. Him, the embodiment of Voraci, being mocked by children? “Heh” he mused. Once the most ridiculed man on the face of Solum, today ruler of all but the free lands beyond the river. Even his four generals bowed out of fear. This is a summoning they would expect. For a little over a year they had been scouring the land, putting an end to all unborn children still in their mothers womb. They had been searching and they had failed.
Reaching the top, and more than a little winded, The Cleric paused to catch his breath before moving to the dark orb encased by black claws on the center of the roof. His hands passed over it as he whispered Plurnad malis relnmar. Before him shimmered the figures of his four lords: Lord Ferrus in the North, a black wizard whose soul had long ago been lost and now served Voraci unerringly; Lady Vivek in the south, a dark elf whose penchant for fire and the undead ironically brought be back to the very elves who exiled her; Lord Kelbourn in the east, a knight of incredible strength and the replacement of Lord Morrow; and Lady Felicity, the extractor and keeper of secrets, leader of a special force of men who relish in things that cause even the heartiest man to lose his lunch.
The four lords all bowed as one. “You have failed me. The child still lives. Find her. Bring her to me if you can, kill her if you cannot.” The Cleric’s wrath was palpable, with the weather seeming to take note, answering with a bolt of lightning and a crack of thunder.
“Yes, Lord Oris,” they said as one before bowing and flickering out.