The Road to Hell

Predator or Prey?

The Lord’s orders were clear: Accompany his son, Jehnath, on a hunt. Keep him company, but do not interfere with his entertainment. And above all, make sure he nothing happens to him.

The two men assigned with the task were his champion, Kamau, and his advisor in all things magical, Fox. The two men enjoyed the trust of their Lord, but like most people, did not enjoy his arrogant son’s company. Even so, they accepted their orders dutifully. At the time, they had no idea what they had signed up for.

It all seemed like any other hunt, with the young Jehnath maiming a pale furred stag. When they went closer to deliver the killing blow however, they were in for a surprise,for their prey was no ordinary stag, but a creature with strange powers. With its dying breath, everything went black.

The three hunters woke up to find themselves in a savannah, dotted with hills and trees and sliced by a river. In the distance they could see a cloud of dust, while the air carried the sounds of baying wolves. Jehnath spotted a vantage point, some standing stones atop a hill, which he hoped was a holy place that could provide them sanctuary. Unsure of whether still carrying out their orders or running for their lives, Kamau and Fox followed.

It was a long, hard run. As the pack drew closer, the heroes looked over their shoulder. A flock of hawks was flying over the wolfpack and a tall figure with antlers sprouting out of its forehead was leading. This was clearly no ordinary gathering of wild animals. Someone, or something, was hunting them.

Jehnath collapsed as they were climbing the hill and his guardians had to carry him. The pack gained ground and reached them just as they entered the stone circle. Its leader smirked. “You think you’re safe in there, don’t you? You think a shrine will protect you?” he said, and stepped in the circle. His gaze fell upon the unconscious body of Jehnath. “I’d advise you to pick your company more carefully in the future” he said with a tone of disgust. “However… you did make it up here, and that’s not easy. You can reach Sigil from here by sprinkling a little water on the stones as you speak the name of the City of Doors.”

So they did, only to find themselves transferred to a dark alley in Sigil. They gave a healing potion to Jehnath, and as he was coming to, left him and stepped to the streets. As of now, they were no longer bound to any authority but themselves.

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New in town
Mortis, 2nd Hive day

Fox and Kamau took a few minutes to let the amazement pass and the information set in. They cast their gaze on the city’s grim skyline, their eyes exploring the spiky architecture. They tried to grasp its alien shape. They saw creatures of wonder they’d only heard of in stories and some they’d never heard of before, crowd the busy streets. “Oi, you berks look new here” they heard a voice near them. “Need a tout?”

That is how the duo met Aliah and first heard the city slang. After settling in an inn, whose doors were actually portals to rooms in some planar pocket, they began to explore the City of Doors. She was selling many kinds of tours, of which they chose the Bar Crawl. And so they visited the filthy basement of the Speckled Rat, the grandeur that is the Golden Bariaur and the shadows of the Styx Oarsman. She took them to the Green Mill with its clientele of woodland creatures, as well as to the eerily silent Face of Gith with its githzerai customers conversing mainly through telepathy. Once the tour was finished, they asked Aliah if she had any contacts that could land them a job. Overhearing their conversation, some customer spoke telepathically to them, informing them that the Factol of the Fated, was looking for someone to carry out an important job for him.

And so, Kamau and Fox were taken to the Hall of Records and learned of Vartus Timlin, a former Factol of a now defunct Faction and a formidable warrior. They were told that his fighting prowess came from his famous sword, Lightbringer and that he grew strong and fool enough to challenge the Lady, earning him a spot in one of her Mazes. They were provided with directions on how to enter and exit Timlin’s maze and ordered to return the blade. Still learning the ropes in Sigil and certainly not willing to refuse a Factol’s demand, they set out for the maze.

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In the Maze
Mortis, 2nd Low day

Fox and Kamau entered the Maze according to the instructions provided, and spent quite some time attempting to navigate it, before they ran into Vartus Timlin. Not quite what they expected, and certainly looking none-too-bright for a Factol, they were nevertheless able to convince him to trade his sword for the information on how to exit the Maze. Vartus Timlin got to keep his sword until they would reach the exit, when he would have to surrender the blade in order to learn how to get out.

On their way out, the three men ran into a Harmonium group that had also entered the Maze in search of the sword. Caught in the narrow corridors of the Maze, they were unable to utilize their superior numbers and were cut down by Vartus Timlin. During the fight, Fox got the chance to inspect the blade’s magical aura. It seemed less powerful than it should, although something appeared to distort the energies around it.

At the exit of the Maze stood a group of Mercykillers also in search of the sword. Although more open to diplomacy, eventually they drew their weapons in an attempt to forcibly take the blade and were all slain by Vartus Timlin, Kamau and Fox.

After surrendering the sword to his saviours, the prisoner and his rescuers jumped through the portal back into the streets of Sigil. After a brief chat, they learned from Vartus Timlin that his faction was called “The Expressionists” and were dedicated to discovering one’s true inner self and bringing it out. Setting out to find any remaining member of his defunct faction, Vartus Timlin left and swore that he would repay the favor.

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Information is Power
Mortis, 2nd Void day

Things were starting to be complicated, and questions arose. Kamau was pondering what to do with the recovered sword and who to give it to, if he ended up passing it to someone. Meanwhile, Fox was intrigued by his detection results and wanted to know more about it.

Before anything else, they stopped at the Styx Oarsman for a drink. They met Aliah there, who advised them to buy a Mimir. In doing so, they left for the Market Ward, where they bought one from somebody named Bok. After that, they visited a store run by Nari, who sold them a strange scroll with the Identify spell in it. It was written in Infernal and mentioned an alternate casting way, which substituted the gem component with a drop of the caster’s blood.

Returning to The Bounded Space, Kamau lay on his bed to think about his options and eventually fell asleep, as Fox cast the Identify spell from the scroll they’d purchased. Without realising it, he got carried away by the chanting and cut his palm deeply, blood dripping on the sword beneath. He felt part of his essence transferred to the sword, attuning himself with its magic energies, which were in fact quite moderate in power. The spell however was draining enough to make Fox collapse.

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Lightbringer delivered
Mortis, 3rd Lady day - 3rd Market day

Fox and Kamau decided to return the sword to the Fated, so they went to the Hall of Records and met Unthar, who was the one that had asked them to retrieve Lightbringer. Even though he wasn’t excited to be told that the blade was not as powerful as believed, he took advantage of the opportunity to discuss and explore their motivations, reaching the conclusion that they had the potential to join his Faction. So, he invited them to take the initiation test in five days.

Fox especially was delighted to hear that, as he was already interested in joining the Faction. Unthar told them to wander around the common areas of the Hall of Records and meet with other Faction members, promising them that once they were part of the Faction, their recovery of Lightbringer would be rewarded.

So, the two men checked out of The Bounded Space and into the rooms for rent at the Hall of Records. On the way, Fox stopped by Nari’s shop and purchased another Identify scroll, which he intended to copy to his spellbook.

The following day was slow. Kamau wandered around town in search of places that hosted pit fights, duels or arenas. By the end of the day he had heard of the Bottle and Jug, as well as the Red Pony, but he was too tired to visit and fight. He dropped by for a drink at the Styx Oarsman and returned to the Hall of Records, where Fox had just finished copying the peculiar Identify spell to his spellbook. They decided to call it a day.

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Take a walk on the wild side
Mortis, 3rd Guild day

It was obvious from the beginning that it would not be a good day. Kamau experienced Taker philosophy firsthand when he returned from breakfast only to discover that he was about 200 gold coins lighter. Furious, but unable to track the thief among the crowd in the Hall of Records, he and Fox decided to move back to the safety of The Bounded Space.

Aliah had left a message for them there, informing them that she had found employment for them, as asked. They met her at a tavern called The Sign of the Crooked Sword, along with a dwarf introduced as Gedramak Ironfist. After a drink, he offered them a decent reward for finding a fellow named Eliath in the Hive (home territorry of Bleakers and Xaositects, both of which not so friendly to Signers such as himself asking questions) and presenting him for a few questions, assuring them that he meant no harm.

Fox and Kamau left for the Hive and started scouring the taverns and inns for rumors. Their first stop was the notorious alehouse named “The Butcher’s Block” where they learned that there was an unusual number of murders in the Hive lately, however as far as Eliath was concerned, the ogre bartending there asked for 20 gold coins in order to keep his ear to the street, an offer which they denied. Next, they went to the Bottle & Jug, which was closed at that time, so they moved on to The Blood Pit where they heard that some soul-drinking demon was considered the reason for all the recent murders.

While roaming the streets of the Hive, they encountered a barmy muttering names of Abyssal Demon Lords and later some Collectors that informed them (for a price, of course) that they had dragged Eliath’s body to the Mortuary a few days ago. Following that lead, they visited the Mortuary where they spoke to a woman named Toranna. She confirmed that Eliath had been brought there and was buried like all unidentified corpses, by being sent through a portal to the Elemental Plane of Fire for incineration.

Having completed their search, they decided to call it a day and rest before informing their employer that Eliath was dead.

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Time well spent
Mortis, 3rd Clerk day

Fox and Kamau were, once again, in for a surprise. When they met Gedramak to report, they were told that he had already sent for them, as Eliath was very much alive and had been seen sporting the colours of the Doomguard. With this new information, they went to a bar near the Armory where they were told that Sinkers like to hang out. They were met with a not-so-friendly attitude, so they decided that asking was out of the question. They would have to wait.

Of course, after a while, Kamau grew restless, so they agreed that he would go for a walk while Fox would wait in the bar in case Eliath showed up. The road took him to a place in the Lower Ward called the Red Pony, a place he had heard about and wanted to check out. After a beer and chat with Rakk, the barman there, he learned that a lot of working class folk of the Ward come to the Pony for a drink and a fistfight, always carried out in an informal, civil manner that was more like a gentlemen’s sports club than a bar brawl. Eager to compete again after so long, Kamau picked up a fight with a dwarf. Eventually, his opponent gave up and congratulated him as the crowd cheered. Feeling that he had found a place and people much to his liking, Kamau made a mental note to return to the Pony. His desire, mixed with curiosity, became even stronger when Rakk told him that there was a sort of “Inner Circle” meeting every Taker’s Day.

Leaving the Red Pony, Kamau stopped by the Oarsman for a drink. He asked Zegonz for something energizing, and was presented with a mysterious brownish drink that indeed seemed to revitalize mind and body. Pleasantly surprised, he made for the Black Sail, where he met a disappointed Fox, waiting all day to no avail. By then, it was already late, so they returned to The Bounded Space to rest and plan their next actions.

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Pleased to meet you, hope you guessed my name
Mortis, 3rd Hive day

Fox and Kamau were surprised to find a regiment of Sinkers outside their Inn. They were asked to follow them for a chat and were led to meet Eliath, in the flesh. After pressing him to admit the truth, he told them that he’d gone insane after reading a magical book in the city’s library, somehow died in the Hive and met his deity, Lathander, who sent him back to life with orders to join the Doomguard. As for the key of the portal leading to the Isle of Black Trees, which was what Gedramak Ironfist wanted to learn from him, Eliath said he knew it, but forgot in his insanity. He remembered finding the key in the letters of the wizard Talmizar, which were gathered in the collection of Rhaunades.

Certain that something weird was going on, but with no clue as to how to investigate it further, they decided to let the case be, until they had something fresh to follow again. Fox returned to his room, hellbent on making up for the time he’d wasted the previous day, wanting to copy a scroll to his spellbook. Kamau visited the Oarsman, where he stumbled upon Aliah conversing with two fiends. Bringning everyone to the same table, she introduced him to the flirty Zinnia and the mysterious Mordred, two natives of Dis. They all conversed for a while, and the fiends made him an open invitation to visit their home before they left. “You just made a huge mistake,” commented Aliah once she was again alone with Kamau. “Mark my words, they will cash in on that invitation sometime, and you won’t like it one bit.”

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Try just a little bit harder
Mortis, 3rd Low day

This was the day they had been expecting for a while. Fox and Kamau woke up early to prepare and go to the Hall of Records for the tests that would allow them to become members of the Fated.

After some clerk checked their names in a list, so as to make sure that they hadn’t applied (and failed) before, they were allowed to enter the dining room at the Hall of Recreation, which had been specially retrofitted to accomodate the written exams that would assure that future Fated members would be above a certain minimum of intelligence and knowledge.

Once that was over, the successful applicants were taken to the Training Halls for their physical test. Every one was some kind of a duel, with various stipulations that eventually transformed it into a combat riddle that could be solved by applying the faction’s core beliefs.

Kamau went first, given two daggers to fight against a greatsword-wielding goliath. With a ferocious leap attack, Kamau dug the blades deep into his foe’s neck, dealing a nearly killing blow. To his surprised, the giant smiled as his flesh rapidly healed and spat out the daggers. Kamau kept fighting a losing battle, until he noticed that his opponent was wearing a belt with a single large gem at the buckle, which shone with magical light while his wounds healed. However, he was struck down before he had a chance to dive low and deprive his foe of the magical healing.

Fox was next, he and his opponent given a longsword each. Before the duel began, the referee struck a bell and absolute silence filled the hall. Suspecting a silence spell at work, Fox evaded his foe’s blows as he staggered around the arena to discover the edge of the spell’s area. What he didn’t know was that the spell had been cast on his sword, not the combat area. He never had the chance to find it out, as he was beaten senseless by his opponent.

Restored to consciousness, their failure was announced.

They left without a word.

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The darkness stares back
Mortis, 3rd Void day

Fox and Kamau were enjoying a drink at the Oarsman and chatting with the everpresent-behind-the-bar Zegonz Vlaric. A few days ago they’d asked him what they had to do to be allowed entrance casually, without the need for the “password” (the answer to which they ‘bought’ everytime they visited the oarsman). Ever since, they never returned to the bar together, as Fox had been busy scribing scrolls to his spellbook, so now they heard the dark of things.

“As you may or may not know, I do not own this place. I am simply working here, paying back my debt to the actual owner, called Rule-Of-Three. Also, you might have noticed that this place and another one called The Tenth Pit are ”/wikis/baatezu" class=“wiki-page-link”> baatezu hangouts, while there is no place in Sigil for tanar’ri clientele. What I want from you is to… dispose of the owner, without me appearing involved in any way. That way my debt is called off, I’ll own the place and open it to the tanar’ri as well… plus you can get in without passwords and the such. How ’bout that?"

Before they could answer his question (or ask how he expected the baatezu and tanar’ri to just hang out together), they felt something shifting through their clothes, at waist’s height. Adrenaline rushed through their veins, as they angriliy remembered the pickpocketing at the Hall of Records. Kamau turned around and saw a tiny fiend, possibly an imp, meddling with his posessions. Before they could grab it, it stormed out of the place, so they gave chase. Eventually, they caught it in the beginning of a small alley. But that would be the least of their worries.

In the alley, a large man clad in chainmail was swinging a glowing longsword in a losing battle against a group of fiends. He was surrounded by three monsters that looked like gargoyles and a humanoid wrapped in chains that he wielded like whips. They were led by a 12-ft tall insectlike horror, with it’s second in command, another humanoid that was clad in banded mail armor, close by. They had him surrounded, outnumbered and seemed to enjoy harassing him, as if they were toying with their prey. Once they noticed Fox and Kamau, the armored figure ordered the rest to block the alley, while the huge insectoid monster got down to business, ripping the warrior’s sword-arm from his shoulder. “Forget them and let’s go” he said in an outworld gutteral tone. “We got ”/wikis/dispater" class=“wiki-page-link”> Dispater’s prize, our job here is done". Before they all teleported away, Kamau caught a glimpse of the armored figure’s face. For some reason, he was almost certain that it belonged to Zinnia… which would make the chain-swinging figure to be Mordred? They were left with confusion and a man bleeding in an alley.

“Guardian..” the man whispered, before he passed out. A quick search revealed that he was wearing an amulet with the symbol of the hardheads and his armor was emblazoned with some kind of holy symbol. How did everything snowball into this? Could it get any worse?

Probably, if they left him in an alley to die, they thought. So, they decided to carry him to the Barracks where his faction buddies would take care of him.

Deep inside, they had a feeling they would come to regret this.

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