By Jamey Martin
The Search for the Necronomicon
As for Hector, Hrek, and the simpleminded Airovistus, they escaped safely with Bry'th and Glistra to Ethluk, where they would remain until spring.
For over a week Hector enjoyed the hot winter and lotus dreams that both Unther and his new lifestyle had to offer, but then it came to pass that he was summoned to the underground temple of Tiamat and charged with the rediscovery of the ancient text known as the Necronomicon. Only through the power of this text could the full glory of Tiamat once again be made manifest upon the mortal plane.
Thus, Hector set out for the abode of an aged seeress nestled high in the Smoking Mountains, and once there had her conjure up a demon that might reveal to him the location of the Necronomicon. The brutish fiend, Shargore, toyed with the wizard for a time, striking fear into his soul, but then conceded to help him on the condition that Hector yield a virgin sacrifice up to him before the next full moon.
Returning to Ethluk, Hector quickly lured a young boy out to a nearby hill, promising him much gold if he would build a small stone cairn there for him. And then, when night had fallen, and the cairn was at last finished, Hector bashed the youth's brains out with his staff and spilled his blood upon the roughshod altar, all in the name of Shargore.
That night Hector dreamt of the fiend, and in his dream it told him that, though the accursed tome was hidden from him, it's stench was strong in the lands around Hardcastle. And so it passed that the following day, Hector began to organize an expedition to Hardcastle made up of Hrek, Glistra, Airovistus, Ra'ha, and a number of other cult warriors.
The journey to Hardcastle was not a waste, as there they plundered the mist enshrouded tower of an ancient mage known as Iblindir. According to local legend he had long sought to root out and destroy evil in all of it's forms, and even quested for the Necronomicon, but in the end he succumbed to the very evil he sought to destroy; surrounding his tower in a mist from which none who have entered ever returned.
For all of that, Hector and his group did enter the mist, encountering various fiends and lost souls therein, and ultimately penetrated the tower itself. Inside they gave battle to a diabolical floating eyeball and the zombified remains of what must once have been Iblindir, and though the eye-ball reduced a couple of the cult warriors to dust, in the end they succeeded in driving this evil out and banishing the mist from the towers surroundings.
With the battle ended the literate cultist quickly began pouring over Iblinir's journals and notes, and with the help of some sages from Hardcastle, they discovered that Iblindar believed that the Necronomicon once again rested in the so-called Ruins of the Lost on the Eastern Shaar, where it's author had supposedly finished penning the tome in ancient times.
And so it was that the cultists hired a guide and set off onto the windswept Eastern Shaar in search of the Ruins of the Lost. The guides name was Narem-Sin, and he was the offspring of one of the Shaarite tribes that had formed in the wake of the great genocide of Shaarites ordered by Gilgeam over a thousand years past. He knew the land well, and he believed that what the band was looking for rested within a patch of land that was forbidden to his folk by order of their high god Jesuah. Why this was so, the Shaarite knew not, save that a great evil and shame was said to reside there, sleeping, waiting for those foolish enough to trespass.
En route, the cultists were opposed first by the lammasu Messannepadda, who knew of their intent and sought to warn them of their foolishness in seeking the dreaded tome. Before the majestic servant of Jesuah could complete his plea however, the mace wielding Hrek launched a violent assault that ultimately ended in Messannepadda's death. But a few days later, they found themselves confronted by a group of fierce Shaarite holy warriors, the Sons of Jesuah according to Narim-Sin. Their leader, a warrior-priest by the name of Mosias, condemned the cultist in the name of Jesuah for their sacrilege in the murder of Messannepadda and launched an attack on the cultists, but while they fought hard, luck was not on their side. In the end Hrek himself smashed Mosias' skull in, and when the two remaining Sons of Jesuah took flight, Hrek personally chased them down on horseback, mercilessly slaughtering them in the name of the Chaos Queen.
And so it came to pass that, at length, and despite considerable adversity, Hector and the cultist reached the long crumbled ruin of some ancient settlement which they believed to be the Ruins of the Lost. As they began to search said ruin however, they were ambushed by a pride of displacer beasts and quickly found themselves overwhelmed. One cult warrior after another fell to the panther-like creatures, and before long a much wounded Hector found that he had exhausted his spell repertoire. Drawing his dagger, he saw both Airovistus and Glistra hard-pressed, Ra'ha and the cult warriors all fallen, and though he moved quickly to aid Hrek, he found the brutal Daggerdalian in the process of being mauled. So, overcome by natural fear, Hector fled into the ruin, taking shelter in a partially intact tower he happened upon, digging through some rubble and making his way down a exceedingly long flight of stairs ... where he met the acquaintance of a shadowy being wrapped in a flowing black cloak. It named itself as the Nameless Fiend, and made Hector an offer ... in exchange for his soul, and a regular virgin sacrifice, the Fiend would not only grant the mage continued existence, but also take him on as a pupil and teach him the meaning of true power. Gripped by cold fear as he was, Hector nevertheless knew that, yes, he wanted to live ... before all else he wanted to live. And so it was that the Fiend tore the symbol of Tiamat from Hector's neck, destroying the dweomer it carried, while the contract for his soul was written and signed in his own blood.
For three months Hector remained with the Nameless Fiend, and during this time he learned secrets of magic that had hitherto been closed and entirely mysterious to him. He learned how to raise the evil dead, how to conjure demons, and how to inflict suffering upon the very soul of his enemies. And he even saw the Necronomicon, though the Fiend never permitted him more than a brief look at it.
When at last the time was ripe, the Fiend reminded Hector of his obligations and granted him his leave to anywhere in all the mortal realm he might wish. And so it was that Hector was teleported to the land around the city of Ordulin. Here he secretly hoped to touch base with the Cult of Tiamat via a local inn Bry'th told him on the voyage out to Unther.
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