Curse of the Crimson Throne 4E
note: the events depicted herein occur directly following The Undead and Friends
The ruins of the room were a testament to the violence we had just completed against the undead. Rolfe’s agent lay crumpled against a wall, having attempted to destroy us for his master. Rolfe is proving to be a tenacious and unexpected foe. I don’t ever remember crossing the man – or even meeting him, but somehow we are firmly in his crosshairs. Granted, one of the others might have crossed paths with him before and forgotten it. Memory is no one’s ally here.
Everyone was milling about with the usual post-combat daze. The quiet in the wake of swordplay always seems like a thick blanket – protective, but stifling. As if I was alive during the fight, but having won, I am back to the insulated half-life of “normal”.
Iblis settled back into his spot on my shoulder. The soft sibilance of ink over flesh was a comfort. I thought briefly of the depth of bond that had grown so quickly between the imp and I, but quickly moved on. Best to not dwell on such things. It’d been a great benefit already, even if it was certain the others were hell bent on killing me. I can’t even say I disagree.
I watched Larisha gently touch Maia. The power of divinity was fairly palpable from here, some 10 paces away. Envy was thick in my gut, twisting and turning. What that must feel like! The ecstasy of being a true conduit for a Power of Your Choice! The thought leaves me dizzy and the cold stone of the wall is a support, but no comfort. Mattea’s words echo in my ears, stealing power from the Gods! Such temerity she had, and the Inheritor aided her along in this.
I’d been a dupe, I am sure of it. The Ritae had been proper, the rules all obeyed. No other Priest of Aroden had access to even the scant help I have. The only answer was as simple as it was frustrating. It wasn’t Aroden answering my call. Some other Power had intervened, seeking to masquerade as the dead. I can not abide it any longer. Better to owe a price known than to be some arrogant godspark’s spare change.
The ride back to Orsini’s was long and quiet. My decision made, I just needed to find the space to make it real. Space alone. I am fairly confident that Larisha will continue to be patronizing. Her remarks still cut so much more deeply after her understanding. It’s as if she can only accept me at my worst. Now, reaching for real power, she scoffs and cries foul. To hell with her, I will be doing this.
I get some small amount of sleep and then beg off at breakfast. Some offer support, some surprise. I barely hear it. I tell them I will catch up, and I head off. Iblis has helped me to work out my destination, and the texts, though cryptic, eventually yielded their secrets. The foothills are a days ride and I am more and more electrified with the promise of change as I get closer.
The hut is unassuming and ill-kept, the weather has beaten it down, but the walls and tattered ceiling will hold off at least one more nights rain. Glancing at the storm clouds gathering in the twilight, I’m glad of the shelter, no matter how meager.
I dismount and tether the horse to a nearly dead tree nearby. I can smell incense despite there being no one around. I can hear the chant already in my mind. The whole of the process is here in me. It’s more real than the promise of the Imposter’s healing I have been carrying, more urgent. My footsteps are harsh and grinding in the rough rocky ground. The last few steps. The air has a charge and the entrance is pitch black in the dim and dying light. It will be a long night.
Iblis sits watch through the day, as my exertions have left me exhausted and done for. It’s unneeded though, as nothing natural will set foot near this place for days. The stain of my actions will stay here for a long time – adding to the wound already here – reinforcing it.
We leave a bit after midday. We steal away from the place, and though I know that all has changed, my skin is taut with that change. I can feel it. A presence joined with mine, a power lending me support on the quest I began so long ago. A willing power. The Imposter is cast out and my research waits for me.
I re-enter the world and let the words roll across me..
I wish to raise a God from the dead. I seek to raise Aroden.
Glass grating on the cobblestones has sounded sweeter than the voice which answered.
It might be possible, but such a road is not easy. I may be able to help you in this.
All this for a chance.