Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Wrath of the Righteous, episode 5: Harsh Justice

July 31, 2016

Character level: 3rd

As the group hiding in the shop looked on, both Jiro and Zosta realized that they were completely unable to gauge the strength or skill of anyone in the party with Jiro’s brother. While the procession in the street was passing by the shop, the kami allowed Jiro to clearly see the fiery fox demon within his brother. Suddenly the demon turned to look toward the shop and grinned, and Jiro was sure that it was looking at him. At that same instant the kami abruptly withdrew and his vision returned to normal. He recognized that while the demon had been looking in his direction, his brother was still facing forward.

Once the demonic group had passed by, Jiro told his companions what he had seen. Asami and Runa had both spent much time learning about the denizens of the Abyss and the infernal realms, and they both recognized that the demon Jiro had seen was one of the nine demon lords of Tian Xia.

Despite all the strange events that had occurred that evening, and against the wishes of his wife, the shopkeeper offered the group lodging for the night. He introduced himself as Joual, and his wife as Maebel. Their two children were young son Syd and slightly older daughter Neena. After thanking Joual for his offer of hospitality, Jiro sat down on the floor and explained to everyone how and why he and Asami had come to the Worldwound.

When Jiro had finished his tale, Maebel began having Neena do some chores around the basement area where the family had been hiding since the catastrophe that befell Kenabres. Asami noticed that the woman didn’t have the girl do any chores that would involve using wooden objects. She also observed that Neena seemed unusually interested in the fire.

At the same time, Kirara was being exceptionally friendly with little Syd. Syd began to plead for the newcomers to tell him a story. As he grew more strident, there was suddenly a pulse of soothing energy that filled the room, and everyone who still had any injury realized they had been healed. Jiro recognized that the positive energy had come from Syd, and thanked the boy. It was apparent to the group of adventurers that both Neena and Syd had magical power and Syd had been blessed by one of the gods. Runa approached Maebel to suggest that once the city’s troubles were over she should consider taking her son to a temple for training. A little later, as Syd continued to beg for stories from the visitors, it seemed that he was about to release his divine power again. But that proved too much for his small body and instead he fell asleep.

The party members used what healing capability they had left to make sure that everyone would be fully healed the next morning. Jiro also used his magic to create water for the family. In appreciation for the group’s kindness to his family, Joual told them that they could take whatever they needed from the supplies in the shop. They took the time to distribute among themselves some of the items they had acquired underground; Jiro took charge of a scroll of magic fang, Zosta was given a potion of cure moderate wounds, and Asami received scrolls of comprehend languages and identify.

That night Joual and Maebel took turns standing watch while their children slept. The party members offered to watch over the pair so they could rest, but the couple were determined to watch over their children themselves.

The following morning, Jiro and Uncle had a conversation about something else Jiro had seen in addition to his brother's state of possession, something which he hadn’t described to anyone else. While his brother and the rest of his group were passing by, Jiro had caught a glimpse of a red-furred monkey with black wings lurking in the shadows. Uncle immediately knew that this monkey was an aspect of a mischief-making demon called Belphegor, but he warned that Belphegor’s definition of “mischief” would be described by mortals as “torture.”

After Jiro shared this information with the rest of his companions, he went out to check Joual and Maebel’s garden, where he found some berries to use as goodberries.

When Jiro returned to the shop, Uncle told him that one of the kami from the previous evening’s events had offered to remain and watch over the house. Jiro told Joual and Maebel about the benevolent kami and how to provide it with recompense, and the kami was so pleased by what he described that it left an imprint of its smiling face in dust on the counter.

The party then took their leave of the couple. Jiro suggested that if they found any crusaders about in the city they could ask that they keep an eye on Joual’s shop, but Joual requested that they not tell anyone about him. He preferred to reserve what supplies he had left for the benefit of his friends and neighbors. The group members agreed to abide by his wishes.

As the party made their way toward Aravashniel’s desired destination, Blackwing Ruin, they saw more people in the streets than on the previous evening, though nowhere near as many as they would have seen prior to the demonic attack. They overheard a variety of rumors from passersby: that the demon lord Deskari himself had led the attack, that a witch was coming to claim the city, that there were multiple cults of demon-worshippers abroad in the city, and that the water supply had been poisoned. This last rumor was quickly proved to be false.

They also came upon a large man who was surrounded by smears of blood and crushed bones that they could just manage to identify as the remains of some small demons. Since the man’s hammer was covered in blood as well, they took this to mean that he had slain the demons himself. Once he realized they were not enemies, he introduced himself to the group as Johan, a laborer who had come to Kenabres to join the Crusade but had arrived just in time for the attack. He agreed when they invited him to accompany them.
As they neared the location of Blackwing Ruin, a trail of devastation could be seen ahead. It did not lead to Blackwing Ruin, but when they approached that structure they saw that it too had suffered massive destruction. Only the part of the building that was likely the entrance hall still stood. The rest was rubble. Curiously, none of the surrounding buildings had been damaged. The members of the group began to suspect that Blackwing Ruin had been deliberately targeted for destruction. When told of the state of the building, Aravashniel fell to his knees and wept.

Then Aegron heard the sound of a voice coming from within the remaining structure, a man ordering someone to hurry and stack some books. He moved closer and peered inside through a window opening. Within the building, he saw an armed and armored man commanding a woman to stack the books. In the center of the chamber were four people, bound hand and foot. The books the woman was stacking were encircling the four bound people, and it was apparent to Aegron that the fellow ordering the woman about meant to set the books – and the people – on fire. He immediately drew his bow and fired on the man while calling out to his companions what he had seen.

Runa charged forward, drawing Radiance on the run, and used her shield to bash open the double doors. Aegron dropped his bow and ran inside to attack the armored man who had been giving commands. The man dropped a torch on the floor and some nearby tomes caught fire. The man then ran toward the doors where Runa stood, shouting, “Death to Iomedae!” He struck Runa a serious blow with the heavy mace he carried. Two other people appeared from the shadows to attack Aegron.

The woman who had been stacking the books ran to untie the four prisoners. Johan and Garvin, the man the group had rescued from the Baphomet cultists, both moved into the chamber. Jiro went to heal Runa, while Garvin helped Aegron against his opponents. Zosta tumbled through the crowd in the doorway and went to put out the fire and finish untying the prisoners. Johan swung his massive hammer at the man who was attacking Runa, and the fellow stopped fighting and began to beg for mercy.

Asami had remained outside with Aravashniel, Aneva and Horgus. On hearing what Aegron described, Aravashniel began to summon something. An otyugh appeared inside the chamber between the stacked books and the fighting going on near the doorway. When Zosta tried to move past, it lashed at her. Asami gave Aravashniel some advice about how to keep the creature from attacking his friends and the otyugh moved to protect the former prisoners from their attackers.

Runa ordered the man with the mace to drop his weapon and shield, and he complied. In the meantime Aegron badly wounded one of his opponents and slew the other. Runa then angrily demanded to know what her prisoner was doing there. He replied that he had come to join the Crusade. When she asked why he had cried out, “Death to Iomedae,” he told her he disliked priests, especially those devoted to Iomedae and Sarenrae. Determined to make him regret his choices, Runa slashed his cheek with the point of Radiance, which was just enough hurt to cause him to faint.

After the fire was smothered and the prisoners all freed, Asami escorted Aravashniel inside to see what was left. The woman who had been stacking books, Fenna, recognized Aravashniel although he didn’t know her. She was very impressed and excited to see him. She and the four other people had all been librarians for Blackwing Ruin’s huge collection of material on demons and demonology. When Fenna told her rescuers that everyone else in the building had been slain, it brought Aravashniel to tears again. Once he had recovered his composure, he was determined to remain at the ruined structure. He asked Johan if he would be willing to stay there as guard, and the big man agreed.

Runa meanwhile used her divine magic to heal the would-be arsonist just enough to bring him back to consciousness. Then she took him outside, condemned him to death in the name of Iomedae, and ran him through with Radiance.

Loot acquired:
+1 heavy mace
2 potions of cure light wounds
Suit of banded mail
Light steel shield
65 gold pieces
2 shortswords
2 sets of leather armor

Next: Episode 6, A Reunion Among the Rubble

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