Rhiallis: Irredeemable, pt. 2

      Today’s snippet, titled “Irredeemable, pt. 2”, is a piece I wrote about my PC in Mark’s Pathfinder Campaign.
      This is the second half of “Chapter Thirty-Three”, and we find out about Mar/Maranse, at last.
      Be forewarned, there may be mature themes and naughty language below.
– – – – – – – – – – –
      The shadow had come in the form of…
      …of a crusader…
      …long dead…
      …named… Maranse.
      In eerie unison, eight sets of eyes turned to Mar. His eyes went wide, then he smirked and before any one could so much as utter a curse, the betrayer vanished.
      “Graves coulda stopped him,” Mira muttered.
      “Graves was the one who insisted we try and redeem him.” Korael shifted her weight restlessly. “Like that bastard in the graveyard.”
      “To be fair, Rhiallis was also vocal about both of them,”Aimsley said, casting an apologetic look at Rhiallis. “From what I have been told.”
      “No, it is true. I believe in the possibility of redemption – for any who profess to want to rise from the mires. We worried that Mar was not right in the head, but we should be worried that he wa not right in the heart.”
      “Too late for recriminations anyway. The fucker is gone. We gotta keep going.” Niro was taciturn in general, so when he spoke at all, Rhiallis tended to credit his ideas more than perhaps she ought.
      They flipped through several more chapters while the others gathered Staunton’s valuables to be sold or destroyed later. It seemed that the Nyhardrian Crystals, which has blessed them with surprising new powers upon exploding had done the same for Staunton, Aponavicious the Marilith, and Salt & Grebb the Chimera, though two other of Aponovicious’ pet had not survived the consumption of the elixir. Staunton made mention of a Blackflame Adept named Xanthir Vang who disturbed him terribly. Rhiallis tried to imagine what manner of evil a being must be to unsettle an antipaladin like Vayne and shuddered. She could not even bear to consider.
      The dwarf also mentioned the escapee Joran had told them about. She was definitely a succubus, though he gave her a name – Arueshalae – and called her a heretic of the Abyss.
      What could cause someone to be labeled a heretic of the Abyss? Is there anything so wicked to cause a fall from so-called grace? Betrayal of the cause? But did she betray them for another source of evil, or for a source of good? And if we do not slay her on-sight, as Celeste will want to do, do we risk another mistake like Mar? How can I consider myself a paladin if I do not at least try? I must at least try.
      “So, he hired an Annis Hag to hunt her? She’s dead already.”
      “I doubt that, Celeste. A powerful hag would be troublesome, yes, but this woman has defied the powers of the Abyss in some way. She will not go down without a fight. She must be canny and driven, to whatever purpose touches her heart.”
      “She’s a succubus. The purpose that touches her black heart is undoubtedly evil.”
      “We cannot know that. I urge caution and patience.”
      “We’ll see.”
      Rhiallis bit her tongue. Again, she sighed, falling into her accustomed place in line. I miss Graves.
      Climbing the tower was another lucrative venture for within the bedroom of a Priest (or Priestess?) of Deskari, they found a small library of unusual books tucked inside a large Bag of Holding, more enchanted trinkets, scrolls, ammunition, jewels of immense worth, and a matched set of emerald and ivory – a Sceptre and a Crown.
      “Now, we head downstairs? Where Joran said the-” Isadora paused, mid-syllable, to buff one of the emeralds on the crown with her thumb. “Uh, said we should go to find it.”
      Beneath the Citadel, the very air changed – it was heavy and dank and oppressive. The light seemed to work differently, swallowed by the shadows rather than casting them. Demonic carvings defaced every surface with profanity beyond description. A faint mumbling chant echoed throughout the prison chamber, unintelligible and mad. There were patches of crimson and violet lichen on the ceiling and floor that was obviously out of place here.
      “That stuff grows in the Abyss,” Aimsley nodded her chin at a large growth of moss. “It is not native to our plane.”
      “Great,”Korael said, warming her bowstring between her fingers. “As if the ‘Wound wasn’t enough – we’ve got the Abyss merging in here?”
      “Something like that.”
      Celeste motioned for quiet and Mira examined the heavy steel door for a moment. When the hin nodded, Celeste pushed through and they discovered that they had in fact entered the jail level. Dread growing in her chest, Rhiallis cast a protective blessing upon herself and Mira. The spell did not hamper the feeling of supression she felt as they moved into the room. It was as if the whole place were under the effect of some unhallowing magic. Before she could wonder aloud, Isadora tumbled backward a step, stunned.
      “The walls. The floors. Everything,”she gasped, righting herself. “Its all magically altered.”
      “You think-” she began. Her words were lost in the frenzy of battle as a group of vampire spawn poured out of the hallway to beseige them.
      They were surprisingly quick – both Rhiallis and Niro missed several swings in a row.
      “Kill the humans, kill them dead. Drink their blood and break their heads,”Isadora’s voice, like honey and velvet, rang out above the fray. “Good is stinky, good is gross, let’s eat their souls and please the Source. Blood is honor, blood is life. Spill their blood and sacrifice. Our master is waiting, our master lurks; if we kill them all we’ll enjoy some perks.”
      “What the FUCK are you doing?” Rhiallis screamed – or at least, she thought she did, for each heartbeat was another swing of her blade, another shift of her weight to avoid a blow. Suddenly, there were a pair of spectres here as well, much like those that had killed Mytra and Graves.
      “Iomedae forfend!” She cried, lifting her hand to the skies. The enchanted tattoo glowered and then a burst of glittering holy energy radiated around her. In the same moment, she did it again and one of the shadows dissipated into a cloud of black.
      Aimsley and Korael had been touched by the shades, but were relatively unhurt. So was Isadora, though she seemed angry at herself for having succumbed to the charms of one of the vampires. She apologized, profusely, but there was little to be done about it. The damage had been done – Celeste’s wounds were twice as serious as they would have been if Isadora’s song had bolstered the party rather than the enemy.
      “Nevermind. Let us move on.”
      Alway succinct, Celeste led the way through the cells and then south into a wide room that had obviously been used for interrogation. Worse than that, though, for the entire place smelled of the worst sort of violation. I should call this the soul rape room, Rhiallis thought, We should brick it up once we retake Drezen and never speak of its existence again.
      “That cell is open.”
      There was a warm, golden energy emanating from that small room. They approached it as one, but Mira and Korael were mesmerized by it. They entered it first, as if called by some silent siren, and their eyes brimmed with tears at the beauty within. Rhiallis wished desperately that she could feel the sensations the girls felt for they were enraptured, wrapped in the light as if in the arms of a loving mother or a soul-mated lover. Butterflies in innumerable multitudes decorated the walls of the cells, scratched and carved and drawn in charcoal. Amongst the fluttering wings was a prayer, Beseeching the Lady of Luck for her aid.
      Though it was to a Goddess other than She Rhiallis was pledged to, the moment touched her and soothed her fears and for the space of a few heartbeats, hope surged within her. “Hear my prayer, Lady Luck, for it is luck I need in escaping this cell. Not just the life behind these bars, but an eternity spent shackled to the Abyss itself. If you truly are the tender of dreams, then tender unto me a new existence. Let me sing the song of the spheres, see the stars with new eyes, and escape the Pit into which my soul was cast. Bring me good fortune, my Lady. Bring me a new spirit made clean, and I will forever be yours in life, and in faith. I am ready. Finally ready.”
      “Desna be celebrated,”Korael breathed, her wounds healing. “This is… miraculous.”
      Though she could have basked in the aura of that cell forever, Rhiallis found her attention drawn awy moments later as Celeste checked the other cells – sigils upon which indicated an anti-magic field had been set upon the area. Somehow, that made the presence of golden magic in the succubus’ cell even more amazing.
      “This place,”Mira said, wonder in her voice. “It is…”
      “Yeah,”Korael nodded. “It is.”
      “We have to find the gaoler,” Celeste said, rolling her shoulders. “Joran told us it was a vampire and he must still be down here, if all of those minion were guarding his lair.”
      In the north hall, the tang of blood was thick in the air. Aimsley whispered that this was the source of the mad chatter – this dark hall was a torture room. More horrifying than the interrogation room, for what had been done here wa done with malevolent glee, with sadistic pleasure. The souls who had perished here had not suffered to give information or to hide secrets – they had died in agony for the sick entertainment of others. Rhiallis was heartsick.
      She had naught but a moment to reflect on that, for the gaoler’s bodyguards appeared – a pair of demons, secreting foul slime from every pore, and a massive four-armed beast with a chest the size of an ox who bristled with weapons. As Mira slid beneath the girillon, she came up with her knives and slammed them into the beast’s most sensitive area. He was absolutely crippled by the damage done to his genetlia and Rhiallis tried not to imagine what Mira must see close close up.
      To their right, a vampire emerged from the shadows. He punched a gouge in the stone wall as he passed. Leaving the slime demons for the others, Rhiallis and Celeste left off to wage war on the gaoler.
      “MIRA!” Aimsley screamed a warning as the girillion responded to Mira’s attack with a brutal repost that drove her to her knees.
      “Aren’t you a pretty one?” Someone hissed.
      Rhiallis turned from her target in time to watch helplessly as a second vampire slipped through the very wall to move up behind Isadora. There was a blade in his hand and in the space of a heartbeat, he drove it into her back three times. It seemed to suck the very life from her and though she did not fall, Isadora was somehow diminished greatly.
      “Bodiis tiid, wuappede med masek. Faal Rah do Lu bolaav mii nelom, ko daar un tiid do praag,” Aimsley’s incantation changed the weave of time itself; each of the party seemed to be moving at an advanced rate though the world continued on normally.
      The extra celerity granted by Aimsley’s timely spell allowed her to reach the vampire – a more powerful one who coul only be the true gaoler, in an instant. Though she could not channel a holy smite into her weapon, her innate ferocity allowed her to l and two solid blows. A second later, Celeste arrived as well and absolutely wrecked the gaoler. So shocked by her destructive hit, the gaoler could hardly react except to vanish in a poof of smoke. The instant he appeared again, a second strike from Celeste’s blade ended him and the room fell silent.
      “Um.” Mira’s little voice rose over the sounded of heavy breathing. “There’s a door here. Should we open it or retrieve Isadora first?”
      “She’s in no shape to be nearby if something happened. Let us check it first, then find her.”
      Within the secret chanber was an empty coffin. “Seems a bit anti-climactic, really.”
      Rhiallis smiled at Korael, but she was weary to the bone after hours slogging through the vile air in here.
      “Let’s find Isadora and return to camp. We have much to tell Irabeth and Queen Galifrey, though I imagine they will not be pleased to hear we have both defeated and lost the corpse of Staunton Vayne.”
      “Sometimes, Rhiallis,” Mira grinned at her, still feeling the touch of her patron, “You’re a real downer.”
– – – – – – – – – – –
Signed, Josie
Note: Image is “King Jagiello Statue Central” by (Mulligand) from SXC.hu; edited by me

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