By Deverian Valandil
[ 5:00 ]
The wolf-beast slowed its breathing as it peeked through the doorway into Bryn's room. A puff of smoke came out from its nostrils as it saw the kid sleeping peacefully, unaware of his impending doom. The creature stretched its claws, then stepped inside. When the beast's foot came down, it landed on something warm and fuzzy.
An angry, high-pitched screech sounded from underfoot, and Cerdan's cat Jinx sprang from his spot on the floor, slashing its own claws at the wolf beast's leg. The monster stumbled back in surprise. The noise roused Bryn from his sleep, and through tired eyes he blinked at the scene before him.
Jinx had bitten the wolf-beast on the ankle, and the creature was now jumping about on one foot, snarling as it attempted to shake the feline away.
Bryn's eyes snapped open wide, and in three leaps the boy bounced out of the bed, skipped atop a desk, and squirmed out the open window, barefoot, into the open streets.
With a final hard kick, the wolf-creature knocked the cat away, and Jinx scurried off deeper into the house. The beast whirled back to the bed, but saw that it was too late. Letting out another primal roar, the monster charged toward the front doors, still intent on stopping that troublesome kid. [ 5:07 ]
* * *
Lorelei watched as the liche placed the silver pendant on the front of its chest. There was a slight flash of light, and the pendant attached itself to Verskul's rib cage.
“Have the Sigils been secured?” intoned the liche.
“Treysen has acquired one of them. I will receive it from him personally within the hour.”
“What of the other?”
“We do not know what Derrick and Cerdan have done with it. I had them brought here for interrogation until we-”
The liche turned its hollow gaze on the Maiden, “They are here ? You were not to reveal this location to anyone.”
“I will remind you that I control your soul. You are bound to follow me,” the liche began to walk away from the altar, its bones creaking and grinding with every step, “For the remainder of this day, you will carry out my orders.”
Lorelei nodded, “I am aware of the geas upon me.”
“Then I order you to retrieve the Sigil from Treysen. First, however, I want you to deal with those things. Have them both killed immediately; I'll not have my plans ruined by your own need for vengeance,” Verskul made his way to the side of the room, where a set of red necromancer's robes lay on a table. [ 5:11 ]
* * *
Everyone in the prison glanced up as Lorelei returned. The wererat scurried over and looked down at the undead woman, “Well? Does he walk again?”
Both Derrick and Cerdan leaned forward against the bars, hoping to catch some key information.
The Maiden nodded and whispered, “Yes, Verskul has been raised. He has ordered that these two be executed.”
“Excellent,” growled the wererat, “I tire of standing here. I am a warrior rodent, not a watchdog,” he raised his claws and advanced on the cages.
“Hold,” said the Maiden, “Before you do this, I must speak to the one who murdered me.” She approached Derrick's cell and pressed a grey, decaying finger against the hole-less lock. The steel piece flashed for a moment, then clicked and separated into two panels.
The wizard slid the door aside and stepped in, never taking her eyes off of the thief. Derrick moved to attack his captor, but the wererat suddenly stuck a claw through the bars and gripped Derrick around the side of his neck, holding him back.
“The undead can shed tears,” Lorelei said, slowly pacing around the cell, “Did you know that, Derrick? Out of all the base functions I have lost; eating, resting, intimacy… the only one that I still have is the one I do not want,” she threw her veil back and fixed her corpse-like gaze upon the thief, “Why would I shed tears, when my frozen black heart in filled with nothing but raw hatred?!”
Lorelei leaped forward and thrust an accusing finger at Derrick's face, her voice reaching a banshee like screech, “Hatred for what you did to me!”
She suddenly moved her hands in the air, and cast a Hand of Death spell. Her palm and fingers became limned in a red glow. Lorelei reached in and held her hand poised just a few centimetres away from his forehead. Breathing heavily, Derrick closed his eyes and swallowed.
Lorelei kept her hand in position for several agonizing moments, then pulled back and traced a counter-spell, dispelling the necromantic magic on her hand, “No. This is too kind a fate for you.”
Derrick opened his eyes. The Maiden leaned away and reached into her robes as she walked over to Rombis' corpse, “After today, one of us will be dead.”
As she spoke, Derrick's gaze fell on the tiny sun tattoo on her forehead. There was something out of place with that faded yellow mark, but Derrick couldn't pinpoint it.
Turning her back to Derrick and the rat, she crouched and started prodding Rombis' body, “Someone once told me that death is the only lasting justice in this world. I will take great pleasure from yours… and perhaps even your son's.”
Derrick twitched and tried unsuccessfully to pull away from the wererat's grip. Lorelei stood and exited the cell. As she passed the wererat she said, “After I've gone, kill him… slowly.”
The Maiden drew a wand from her robes and pointed it at a spot on the ground. With a quick incantation, a radiant green portal sprung into being. Sending one final, dead stare in Derrick's direction, Lorelei pulled her veil down and passed through the gate. [ 5:18 ]
* * *
The wererat released the prisoner's neck and moved inside the cell, claws held out and ready to strike. Derrick rubbed his neck and staggered back. The cage was too small for him to slip around the rat… but if he was fast enough, maybe he could slide under the tall lycanthrope's legs.
Derrick started forward, but the rat was too quick and simply went into a crouching stance and punched its hairy fist down at the floor in Derrick's path. The ex-thief jumped away, but tripped over Rombis' body and fell hard on the floor on his back.
From across the room, Cerdan squinted through the bars of his own cell; was there a glint of light from something in Rombis' hand?
The elf pointed at the corpse, “Derrick! Check the dwarf!”
Glancing down, Derrick saw a silver dagger clutched tightly in the dead dwarf's hand. As the wererat advanced, it reached down and scooped Derrick up by the front of his shirt. It pulled Derrick so close that the thief could smell its rank breath, “I do prefer live meat, but it's too bad you didn't put up much of a fight. Takes all the sport out of the kill.”
Derrick held up Rombis' dagger, reversed it in his grip, and thrust it forward, slamming the blade deep into the rat's chest. The silver burned its way through the lycanthropic hide, finding a path between the creature's ribs.
The monster choked and faltered, but began to tighten its hold on the prisoner's shirt. Derrick yanked the dagger out and slashed it upward across his own tunic. The thief hit the ground, followed by the wererat soon after. For a long moment, Derrick simply lay there, staring at the dead mass of fur and unable to believe that he'd defeated it so easily. Something about the dagger…
“Well? Are you going to get me out of here or not?” asked Cerdan.
Derrick remembered the magic locks on the cages and tried touching Cerdan's cell lock with the wererat's hand, but nothing happened.
The ex-thief shook his head, “I'll have to find that Lorelei woman and make her free you,” Derrick turned and looked at the glowing portal through which the Maiden had left, hanging ominously in the air.
Elsewhere in the city, a large crack had appeared over another of the jewels on the Maiden's black bracelet. [ 5:26 ]
* * *
Treysen stood uneasily in the stables behind Greyhelm Tower , anxiously awaiting his co-conspirator's arrival. He glanced down at the jeweled bracelet on his wrist. Just moments ago, one of the gems had shattered. The paladin wondered if it meant that the Maiden was dead.
His fears were silenced as Lorelei entered the sub-building, her face covered as usual by the opaque green veil. The horses nearby whinnied in fear as she strode past, many of them dipped their heads low behind the stalls to avoid looking at her.
Lorelei indifferently approached Treysen and simply held out her emaciated hand expectantly. The traitorous knight held up the wooden black amulet and presented it to her, “You'd best leave quickly. The envoys may grow suspicious with my absence from the Tower.”
“I am not finished here,” the Maiden darted her hands about in a mystic gesture, and was consumed by white light. In a few seconds, the light cleared and Treysen found himself staring at the spitting image of himself , armour and all.
The knight gaped at Lorelei's magic disguise, “Wait, you cannot do this! If Verskul has forbidden you from-”
“Verskul ordered me to retrieve the Sigils. I am not defying that command by pursuing my own need for vengeance.” Even Lorelei's voice now sounded exactly like Treysen's.
“You may have trouble finding Lord Siron. A number of the envoys are wandering, against my orders.”
“You shall remain here out of sight and allow me to finish what I have started.”
Without waiting for his reply, Lorelei turned on heel and made her way to the Tower entrance. Treysen shifted from one foot to the other, wondering how he was going to deal with this complicated turn of events. [ 5:30 ]
* * *
Derrick braced himself as he came out on the other side of the magical gate, shivering at the sudden change in temperature. He was standing just behind the Greyhelm Tower stables, where the portal was concealed among a cluster of dead trees.
He had reversed his shirt so that the hole was on his back, but with the way he was dressed, his chances of sneaking past the guards at the front entrance were probably slim. Before he could make a decision, the large stable door creaked open and he saw a paladin exit and move toward the tower.
Derrick narrowed his eyes as the paladin walked, then slowly crept closer. For some reason, the paladin's footprints on the ground looked like sandal prints, rather than armoured boots. Rubbing his hands to keep warm, Derrick made his way toward the Tower and began to circle around, hoping to find an alternate entrance. [ 5:32 ]
* * *
Krevis entered the jail area of their hideout, rubbing his eyes as he came in, “As usual, my talents were wasted on a mindless and utterly stupid task. When do I–”
He stared at the room; Derrick's cage was wide open, the wererat lay dead on the ground, and a green portal hung in mid-air at the centre of the room.
“Gah, what is this! Why do I always miss the good parts?!” he drew the kukri and pointed the blade at Cerdan, who was looking rather bored in his own cell, “You, elf! Where is your friend? What happened in my absence?”
Cerdan glanced up at the killer, “Oh, you wouldn't have believed it! A stampede of giant rabbits came charging through, and–”
“Alright, shut up. If your friend managed to escape from here…” Krevis brought out his wand and dismissed the portal with a wave, “… he won't be coming back to rescue you.” [ 5:34 ]
* * *
“I'm sorry, sir, but I must insist that you remain in your assigned quarters,” said the page.
“Quarters?!” Chancellor Thinder cried, “These accommodations are barely fit for animals, let alone city officials.” He cast a disgusted wave about the dusty room.
“Again, I apologize. I am only acting under orders from Sir Treysen.”
“Ugh, very well. Off with you,” Thinder slammed the door shut after the page left. The politician tugged at the collar of his tunic. For some ungodly reason, the entire building's interior was sweltering. Not even any temperature regulation, what a pathetic place.
The Chancellor crossed the room and opened a window, peering out across the fields in the north. He suddenly yelped and jumped away from the sill when a figure stepped into view from outside. Derrick and the Chancellor stared at each other for a moment.
“You again!” they both shouted at the same time.
“You are fortunate that I am so indebted to Orwin's spy services,” the Chancellor began, calming down, “else I would have you strung up for the suffering I've endured this eve,” Thinder gestured at the cane at his side.
He doesn't realize Orwin is dead, Derrick thought. The ex-thief seized the opportunity, “Orwin has learned of another assassination to take place. I must find someone called Siron.”
“Ambassador Siron?” Thinder mused. Derrick was actually referring to Lorelei, but didn't refute the politician, “Very well, come inside. I'll show you to his room.” [ 5:37 ]
* * *
Lord Siron sat up from his hard, ill-kept mattress as he heard a thump from near the door. The envoy reached over and touched a gem of brightness fixed upon the wall nearby. The room was instantly flooded with magical light, and Siron saw Sir Treysen standing at the entrance.
“What in – why do you bother me, paladin?”
‘Treysen' simply placed his palms together and uttered a word of dismissal. The armoured form blurred and was replaced with that of the undead mage in green.
“Hello, father,” she said with frost on her voice, “This final meeting between us shall mark your end.”
Lord Siron gaped, his mouth as wide open as it could be, “Impossible… my daughter died years ago.”
“Yes,” Lorelei threw her veil back so he could see the horror of her visage, “And now I have returned so that you might share in that fate.”
Siron recognized the sun tattoo on her forehead, then recoiled and grabbed the bedpost for support, “You… I… when I received your kidnappers' ransom notice, I sent a band of adventurers to rescue you.”
“Falsehood. You refused to pay the ransom because your precious Sigil was more important to you than your daughter's life. Those ‘adventurers' were assassins sent to retrieve the second Sigil from my kidnappers. I was a peripheral concern,” she leaned in, “I take some pleasure knowing that you never recovered the second Sigil from the thieves after all.”
“What do you intend to do?”
“This building nullifies all hand-cast arcane spells. That is why I brought this,” the Maiden withdrew a red, coiled wand in the shape of a serpent with a dragon's head, “Six years ago, your actions brought about my death. Now, the prodigal daughter returns that act.” She raised the tool at Lord Siron, and the dragon-wand's mouth began to growl.
The door behind her was suddenly kicked open, and Derrick ran inside, tackling the woman to the floor. The wand flew out of her grasp and the growling ceased.
Thinder and Siron stared in quiet shock as the two enemies grappled on the floor, each trying to gain a hold over the other. Derrick, unaware of the Tower's anti-magic properties, grabbed at Lorelei's gashed hands, trying to prevent her from casting.
She slammed an elbow back, hitting Derrick in the nose, and shoved him off. Lorelei crawled forward, grabbed the dragon-wand, and quickly got to her feet. The mage swung around, aimed the weapon at Derrick, and paused a moment.
Then she activated the spell, prompting a loud roar from the dragon-head. Derrick dived to the side as a jet of flame blazed past him toward the door. The magical fire stream struck Chancellor Thinder in the chest, sending him screaming backward into the hallway, clothed in flame.
Derrick closed in and kneed her in the stomach, sending a puff of dust escaping from Lorelei's mouth and causing the wand to fall from her hand. She balled her hands together and struck him in the face, knocking him away from her.
Lorelei seized the moment to reach into her robes and draw out a second wand, this one plainly shaped without any special design. Derrick stood with his knees bent in a ready position, and his eyes darted toward the dragon-wand on the ground, a metre or two out of reach.
“Go on, Derrick,” said Lorelei, pointing her new wand directly at him, “Try to pick it up.”
Derrick didn't move, his mind was racing to figure out a way to win this fight.
Ambassador Siron suddenly ran at his daughter from the side and grabbed her on the wrist, yanking the wand out of her hand. The undead woman responded by grabbing at the envoy's throat. Derrick made his move and rolled across the floor, snatching up the dragon-wand, but now he couldn't attempt to use it with Siron so close to Lorelei.
The Maiden punched her father in the stomach and shoved him to the floor, “This was a mistake. I should not have wasted my time on a pathetic old wretch like you, father.”
Lorelei turned and stared Derrick in the eyes, “Time to end this.”
Before Derrick could do anything, Siron suddenly pointed the plain wand at Lorelei's feet and waved it around in the air. A green spark shot out and hit the stone floor near her legs. The spark of light instantly expanded into a green portal of light beneath the Maiden and she fell through, disappearing with a surprised cry.
Derrick stared at Siron for a moment, then hesitantly stepped up to the portal in the floor. He shielded his eyes and squinted into the light, but couldn't make out what lay on the other side.
“Here, take this,” Lord Siron suddenly called, tossing the plain wand to the ex-thief, “You must kill my daughter.”
Derrick gave the envoy a suspicious look and said nothing.
“I follow a holy religion. We consider the undead to be a blasphemy; aberrations that defy the natural order. Please, end her suffering.” Siron spoke the words convincingly, but in truth he only wanted to prevent others from learning that he refused to pay Lorelei's bounty when she was kidnapped six years prior.
Derrick nodded silently, then looked out the door and down the hall. Thinder had collapsed on the ground at the end of the corridor. The fire had completely consumed his expensive clothing and flesh, leaving him as a charred husk, lying still atop the stone floor.
The ex-thief clenched his teeth and psyched himself up. It was time to end this madness. He held both wands at the ready, and jumped down into the glowing portal in pursuit of the Maiden. [ 5:47 ]
* * *
Bryn's heart was pounding heavily as he raced into the eastern merchants' district of Baldur's Gate. Now that he was back on familiar ground, he had some clue as to where he was going. Unfortunately, this wouldn't help much if he couldn't find some way to evade the wolf-beast. The nearest in-city canal or river was an hour's walk away, and Bryn knew he didn't have that kind of time or energy.
A monstrous roar from behind shook the boy from his thoughts. Bryn finally spotted a tall building with a lit interior nearby, and made a mad dash for its doors. [ 5:50 ]
The boy slammed through the entrance, and nearly collided with a young waitress serving drinks within.
“Hey!” shouted the bartender as Bryn scooted past, “No children! Get out of here!” The kid didn't stop and instead dashed up a flight of stairs at the back, “ Lousy street urchins, always causing trouble–”
The wolf-beast crashed through the door, then halted in its place and looked around at its surroundings. When the patrons saw the beast, towering at the centre of the room, everything and everyone in the tavern fell silent.
Looking from left to right, the monster saw that it was surrounded by dozens of guards, adventurers, and soldiers, all watching him intently. As one, the men and women all rose from their seats, unsheathed a wide array of swords and other weaponry, and advanced on the wolf-beast.
The creature hesitated – fighting a handful of unarmed wererats was one thing. A squadron of skilled fighters on the other hand… The beast backed up, but a number of patrons had already moved to block the door, weapons held ready.
The bartender, holding a large, notched battleaxe pointed at the monster and shouted, “Don't let it escape! Slay the wolf-thing!!”
The beast let out a furious roar, and was swarmed by an arsenal of sharp steel and angry humans. As it collapsed at the middle of the enraged crowd, stabbed and slashed at from all sides, it had one final, frustrating thought. So much aggravation and harm… all because of one annoying, troublesome little brat. [ 5:55 ]
* * *
Bryn could hear the shouts of battle from below, but kept running up the flights of stairs toward the roof. As he neared the top, Bryn could see a door that he guessed would lead outside. The sounds from below had died down, so the boy stopped for a moment to catch his breath, leaning on the wall for support.
A drop of green slime suddenly dripped down from above and landed on his head. Bryn's heart skipped a beat, and he slowly – hesitantly – looked up. There, camouflaged on the grey ceiling directly overhead was the second Night Parade monster… the wolf-creature's spider-like companion.
The spider-beast's fuzzy hide rippled for a moment and it's colours shifted to a more visible shade against the ceiling, “Well, you've led us on quite a chase, kid.”
Bryn opened his mouth to scream, but the spider creature reared its head back and spat a clump of black webbing that landed on Bryn's lower face, covering his mouth.
“You can't escape from me , kid. Now that I have such a spry, clever specimen like you, the rest of the Night Parade is sure to be satisfied.” The spider-thing lowered itself toward Bryn by a long strand of black spider silk, blinking its eight eyes while its mandibles clacked open and shut in laughter. [ 5:58 ]
* * *
In the ransacked pawnshop at the corner of the city, Selena lay on the ground, benumbed and dying, staring out at the shrouded window. Though the curtains were closed, the elf could see that the sky beyond was starting to become lighter. A faint tinge of red was seeping across the black horizon.
The cleric focused inwardly and stared at the skies outside, knowing that this might very well be the last sunrise she ever saw. She felt regret seeping into her heart; to die here in failure, forgotten and with no one by her side. A tear formed at the corner of her eye and ran down her cheek.
[ 6:00 ]
The content of Upon this Fateful Day is the property and copyright of Deverien Valandil, and are not to be published or redistributed without permission.
Return to the Upon this Fateful Day main page
Return to Campaign Logs