Well north of the Great Woses and the land of witches, Zehin, there rose a small kingdom. It's king was Ishafel, a Zehini Warlock who survived being ridden by the Black Devil of the mountain. Ishafel rose quickly in skill and power, yet desired more. He was not content to sit at the hearth fire and cast runes for the Black Devil while the red-headed witches ruled the country. He would raise up his own great kingdom, over their broken bodies if necessary.
He gathered to him a following of other like minded warlocks and a great number of men, many of them foreigners or the half blooded children of immigrants. They went north, beyond the boundary of the Black Devil and they used their magics to raise a new city, the city Ishafel. It was not long before Ishafel turned his attention away from building walls and gathering supplies and towards his true goal. To this end he sought allies among the Ogres, but his hand was tipped when he assailed the Tribe of the Beaver. in a grab for their stockpile of cast off arms, he laid bare his plans.
A conclave was held by a coven of the 13 strongest witches and warlocks in Zehin to deal with the matter. It was decided that vengeance was demanded by the matter, but that it would take many years for the Zehini to forge any sort of viable army to march against Ishafel in the manner of wars in Falhath.
Vengeance Is Mine
The solution came when Torielle spoke, claiming that the crime of her father was a disgrace to the people, to the traditions, and most of all, to the Devil of the Mountain. She spoke that she would accept the Rite of Nemesis. All gathered were shocked by her words, for the Rite was death, yet the young woman could not be disuaded from her course. She fasted for the prerequisit three days, praying in the shadow of the Devil. The Virgins of the Mountain clad her in soft robes of pure white cloth and anointed her forhead with scented oil, and rubbed her feet with ashes of incense.
The Rite of Nemesis
On the day of the Rite Torielle was ritually flogged by the High Priestess with a ceremonial whip. The young woman did not cry out as the whip broke her flesh and stained the white robe red with her blood. The 13 magi of the High Coven approached her one at a time. Each of the 13 kissed the woman on the left cheek and asked her to not to accept the rite. To each she said that Vengeance Was Hers, and she would not relent. In responce each of the thirteen struck her a blow and bade the spirit of the Black Devil be within her. After the 13 were complete, Torielle was nearly a broken woman, her flesh bruised and bleeding, her eye blackened, yet she remained defiant.
The final elixer was brought forth, a secret mixture called the Blood of Devil, and Torielle drank it hungrily from a cup made of bone. The elixer burned within her body and she was quickly mended by the eldritch potency of the fluid and rose from her bier and bowed to the 13 without uttering another word.
A Voyage of Vengeance
For three days and four nights Torielle walked to reach the gates of Ishafel. She drank not water, nor did she eat food, and neither did she sleep or even pause upon the road. The elixer burned within her belly and she could feel the potency of the Rite sliding beneath her a skin like a snake lurking under the fall leaves.
Knowing Torielle for his daughter by blood, and one of the Chosen of the Mountain, Ishafel ordered his Bloodguard to bring the woman to him. He thought incorrectly that she was an emissary, or perhaps a negotiator to speak terms of peace or even surrender. Ishafel was a very proud man, and was prone to such thoughts, for few men ever survived being touched by the Devil of the Mountain, yet he had.
Torielle cast off her once white robes, the blood having dried to a brown stain, leaving only the hood white. She submitted herself to the power of the rite, and the power of the elixer. With the speed of a storm roaring out of the ocean the slithering sensation under her skin erupted from it, and the fire in her belly seemed to push itself outward, with such intensity of heat that her flesh and bones would melt from it.
Ishafel screamed as the body of his blood daughter quivered and was made a vessel of the Black Devil's wrath and he recognized the face of the Nemesis, the eternal hunter, the song of revenge, and the Promise of Death. Her fair skin pebbled and turned a dusk shade of indigo spotted with scales of blue, violet, and darkest crimson. A pair of leather pinions, each wing ending in recurved black talons grew from her back.
Along her spine, long barbs sprouted, and spurs erupted from the flesh of her joints. Torielle slowly ceased to be, swallowed entirely by the wrath of Nemesis to join the Devil's Saints who dwell within it's eternal breast. Ishafel's Horror lunged, howling fear and insanity as it lept across the throne room. Many of his elite bloodguard were slain upon it's black claws, and many of his harem slaves perished in its thirsty jaws. The Horror was daunted for a time as Ishafel fled behind wards and barriers of stone, but the horror broke them, and tore them down. Glutted with blood the Horror was unstopable.
The Last Stand
Gibbering with fear Ishafel took refuge in an underground cellar, thinking to hide from the beast of Vengeance, yet he did not manage to escape before the Horror laid it's mark and bond upon him. So long as the Horror lives, so shall the victim, and so long as the victim lives, so shall the Horror. Blind to this bond, Ishafel slammed the door shut and was paniced as the door sagged under the weight of the Horror. Yet vengeance was not done, the Horror rested upon the door, leaving Ishafel trapped in a place of complete darkness, a permanent hell of hells for a man who dreamed of conquest and domination.
Ishafel supposedly still lives, after a cruel fashion, still trapped down in the cellar. He is mad with hunger and with thirst, and may not be much more than a gaunt and dry shell that is denied the peace of death. The Horror still stalks the ruins of Ishafel's city, sniffing out things that crush and bleed in its jaws, only to return tot he cellar door to once again wait. The ruins stand still, and the streets, such as they are, are filled with mouldering old bones and crumbling towers of limestone and quick mortar.
Into the ruins - The PCs explore a new found ruin, one that seems to have been made a ruin in a very short time as there are plenty of bones to be found, some of them fresh, but the great majority of them very old. Ghosts, crumbling structures, and vemrin are common threats, but things go well enough until the predatory Horror sniffs them and decides to go ahunting.
Ishafel's Pardon - The PCs are sent to the city with a magic scroll to bind the Ishafel Horror and to hopefully return with the insane Ishafel himself so that he can be healed of insanity and used by the PCs employer, likely for no good deeds, either.
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? Responses (6)-7
Awesome. I love it, due, in part, to my recent binge round on Doom 3. A+
A nice haunted location, with the respective 'lifeform' to back it up. Good work.
I enjoy your Zehin-related posts.
'Rite of Nemesis'-very nice description!
Oh, the horror. I like these eternal conflict type things too. Always interesting for players to stumble into something way outside their experience.
Heh, cool. I agree with Strolen, in that I like the idea of an eternal struggle. It reminds of one of my sci-fi books, where two disgraced space marines are sent on a quest of redemption, where they are stuck in the crossfire of a feud between two demons, who have been fighting for centuries. One of the demons was sealed into an infernal locomotive, where he was driven mad by the searing agony of his condition, whilst the other was captures and used to power a fort's anti-magic defenses.
Great setup for an adventure, though it sounds like too much for most to handle...