A journal from Klangor’s perspective. For a paladin, it’s interesting in its…liberalness with some of the events.
It seems like so long ago since I last dreamt of Threshold and home. For us mountainborn, home is a deep yearning, like a cavernous echo that never fades. And for all that the circumstances of House Ironfist were much fallen from their original stature, I miss it still.
But while the truth still dwells within my breast, I must confess that my wildest fantasies could not have encompassed the wonders that I have seen following my master and friend, Kaenan’Tal in his journey in Ahylen and beyond. Truly, the lad is more blessed by the Lords of Light than a whole plenary of clerics!
Where last my pen had rested, the bravest among us had entered the sanctum of He Who Watches, a being of Law and Power who guarded the gates to this world. In this stone edifice, we hoped to find the Obsidian Mirror, one of the four artifacts of power that would grant us escape from this forsaken land.
In the main chamber were steps leading deeper into the temple (a faith built up around He Who Watches), and three stone sarcophagi that stood ruined further in. While the others enjoined him to leave the desecrated bones alone, the lad in his customary naive and earnest manner decided to give the bones last rites. Rageclaw, the giant Nar lizard man (and a more stalwart companion, I have not had the pleasure to encounter. Can you belive that his people follow a debased version of the faith of the golden one? ) helped him in this task.
While shifting the large lid, Rageclaw found a secret entrance further into the temple, completely bypassing the main staircase to the level below. By the silver one, it was a good thing that he did! As we passed through the secret passageway, we saw another one of those accursed amber cats, twin of the one guarding the exit from Chateau d’Ambverville. Thankfully this one stayed quiescent, and we avoided it’s baleful gaze.
The lower chamber had a statue of a vulture headed man, a depiction, I am told, of one of the Inexorable kings who holds this land in thrall. It had been built in the shattered remains of a statue to He Who Watches, an act of desecration.
Past a room that held jars full of choking dust, we found a giant jewelled sarcophagus, apparently containing the remains of the last High Priest and Priestess of this temple. Dread runes warned us not to disturb their remains, and none of us were foolish enough to disregard them.
But this was all there was, and with the Obsidian Mirror still not found, we spread out to look for secret entrances. One was soon found by Thorwell, putting my stonecunning skills to shame. Our group gathered by the bird headed statue (I refuse to put the name of our blasphemous enemy to paper more often than I have to) to watch it open.
Dry dust and a chill wind greeted us as the panel slid wide, inside the hidden antechamber, something ancient and evil stirred. Ever the optimist, the lad shouted words of greeting, and in return our group was smote with a blast of deepest darkness that cut and froze half the party, knocking down Cronyan (that cocky blighter, always taking a place near the rear, needs to protect his fair Annika, says he. Protecting his own hide, says I) and Annika (for all that I’m not fond of Cronyan’s preening, Annika’s a good lass. Worships the Diamond mother to boot, but in her Teacher aspect as opposed to her Healer one. Always has just the right spell for any battle too, dead useful.).
I rushed into the fray, but my soul was smote by the waves of evil radiating off the abomination ahead of me, and I froze to the spot. May the silver lord judge my weakness and may I be able to make amends. Our other doughty combatants rushed into melee (those who weren’t likewise frozen like me that is). I head in the distance Bruna sounding a retreat, that warrior woman always takes her tactics so seriously, but in this case I heard a note of terror in her voice, understandable. (I finally remembered to have the hirelings roll morale)
All of a sudden, a coruscating beam of silver-white light lanced through the hallway into the hidden antechamber and struck our foe right in the chest, and the bleeder crumbled to dust! I am told that it was our resident killer-for-hire Jayna who so smote him. For all that I don’t understand the lad’s tolerance, and indeed his attitude of friendship to this harpy, I am starting to see the wisdom in keeping her around, provision being that we can be rid of her when the time comes.
The hidden antechamber held many treasures, which we appropriated for ourselves. The lad claimed for himself a small ring of office that the Undead Priest (for that was who attacked us) was wearing, and we proceeded further into the hidden portion of the temple.
Not much further on, we came a natural cave system with a huge pool of pitch-black darkness blocking our path forward. Beyond the pool, on an obsidian pedestal lay an ornate Obsidian Mirror, the object of our quest, all around us lay the bones and livery of an ancient slaughter. Of particular note were massive old chitinous pieces, much like those found on a scorpions and spiders lying amidst the ancient remains, and stapled to a side wall was a giant’s skull, held in place with a huge eldritch spike that fair smouldered with malign energies. The skull of He Who Watches, fallen in his final battle.
I almost do not need to relate what happened next. The lad and Rageclaw made to remove the spike to give this champion of law his last rites, and the rest of the group peeled away shouting at them for being fools.
As soon as their wrapped hands touched the spike, the leather smouldered away, and Rageclaw fell, victim to the evil influence of the Spike, his muscles withering on the bone, his hands smouldering as he fell to the ground. But as I previously said, the lad is favored by the Lords of Light, and with all his might he kept pulling. Hannah, thinking quickly, cast a dweomer on the lad increasing his strength tenfold, and with a final yank, the spike came free.
If we were expecting something to happen then, we were sadly mistaken, the lad and Rageclaw gathered up the larger bones for burial.
Ha! Do you think the machinations of law are really to be defeated that easily? As soon as the bones were placed one against the other, they began to knit back together, with a swiftness that beggared belief. The other members of the party, including that fool, the demon possessed Lairn, who had appeared, along with that unspeakable thing his bodyguard Alren had become, after the fight with the priest was concluded, all ran hastily to the exits, leaving me, Rageclaw and the lad to witness the miracle that came next. (In truth, the party withdrew to the doorway, preparing for a battle…they didn’t exactly flee and most of them saw what happened anyway. I suppose we can forgive the dwarf though for being a bit ‘awe-struck’)
In a twinkling, He Who Watches stood before us, flesh and blood and bone, and while many kings claim to have their right to rule given them by the lords of light, all who looked upon He-Who-Watches knew that his portion was indeed so bestowed. The lad and I knelt to greet his return.
Who will forget the succession of marvels that He-Who-Watches performed? Rageclaw restored to his full strength (actually…Long Tom did this with a Remove Curse spell), Annika and Cronyan brought back from death’s door, the driving out of the legion infesting Lairn and his return to sanity, the restoration of Darr, brave Darr who fell while we were covering our tracks in front of the portal, and who was nought but ashes at this point, smote by Lairn, his own ally. And not least of all, the bestowing of his favor upon the lad, Kaenan’Tal, who to the end protested that he already served another, only to be told that He-Who-Watches favor did not require worship. The Eagles sang many hymns of joy that day, as we quit that place. In the distance He-Who-Watches strode into the wastes to carry out his grim purpose.
I write this in a cool glade the Eagles have borne us to, as my compatriots use the Obsidian Mirror to scry out our next targets. By my reckoning, it has been a year, six months, three weeks and five days since I last saw Threshold. A long journey that I did not forsee when I swore that oath of fealty all those months ago. Though perhaps no other mountainborn would agree with me, I would not have traded a hundred years in the bosom of hearth and home for even a tenth of the wonders I have seen.
By the Silver One,