End of Days: Rebirth III

Failure’s Price

After our brief respite, we began to prepare to head to the office, retrieve the key, and enter the courtyard. The morning was cool and slight fog was rolling through the chasm. Before we left our camp I tried to learn more about the people I was resurrected with. The Swordsman seemed to be bothered by this as if the memory loss was more of a factor for him. Maybe he once lead a glorious life full of valor and nobility, and his mind was unnerved and restless trying to reveal these facts to him. Perhaps he just wasn’t a morning person. The elves didn’t really care either, all though the Bard of the group appeared to have some thoughts brewing in her head. Morgul then told us it was time to head out, we needed to see the experiments that were being done on the elves before we left the crypt. I could hear in his voice that he knew that what we would find there wouldn’t be pleasant, as if anything we had seen thus far was, but it was something he had to do. He had to see the horrors that he had inflicted on his people. The road of redemption would be long and treacherous for a man such as him, but I believe that with my help he could atone.

Once we reached the top of the ravine we could see the office. The large building standing amidst the fog overlooking the entire crypt. The sun was still rising and piercing through sections of the fog. Deep crimson and soft purples found a pleasant mix through heavy rolling clouds. The gilded pillars of light that did find a way through, highlighted the moss-covered building and the cracked masonry of the wall surrounding the gated entrance to the outer world. It would have been a good scene for an artist to paint if not for the pale hoard of human zombies pouring through the main gate, they were much fresher than the other undead we had run into so far, their numbers seemingly endless as the piled into the area around us. The once-great entryway that was meant to keep the secrets of the crypt, was broken and besieged by the same monstrosities it was meant to keep.

“Ignore the ones by the gate!” Morgul yelled “We need to get inside the office!” he then took control of one of the zombies but realizes they were much too weak to be used in this manner as the sluggish creature misses its mark on its ally. The Swordsmen stealth-fully moved towards the office as the zombies slowly shambled towards us. I then charged for the door, it was the best choice I could make, I would hold there until our party had made it inside. Once I reached the door I turned around to see the Cleric holding his holy symbol high above his head shining a ray of positive energy through the fog obliterating a large number of the undead, this did little to stop the mass of mindless souls marching on our position. The Swordsmen took one of the arms of a zombie that got too eager to feast on his flesh with a quick slash of his blade. Through all of this chaos and over the moaning of the undead I could hear a song coming from the female elf, her voice piercing through the calamity of our heated battle. I could see the hope that the tune had inspired as our morale skyrocketed. Then Morgul, using the same tactic as the Cleric, took out another large chunk of abominations. He then yelled “These zombies weren’t produced by this crypt! We must hurry!” The Swordsmen must have been wanting to try alternative techniques, for he then started acting like one of the zombies. This odd action must have distracted the Cleric for his next attempt to turn the undead was not as fruitful as his prior. The Bard entered the office first and the others quickly followed. Morgul decimated another large portion of the hoard before we both entered the office.

We found our group standing in a room with a man atop a desk. The Bard was trembling with fear as she told us what she saw before we entered. She said that there was a human sitting at the desk with a dark being crouching on his desk. It had a flowing cloak made of feathers that appeared to be matted together with caked blood. Its head was a bird’s skull floating on a plume of dark energy. It spoke in an inhuman tone calling the man at the desk “Greaveth”. The creature took the man behind the desk and became him. Now he stood before us. He jumped off the desk and said that he was there to deal with Greaveth’s failure, and he didn’t have time to deal with the elf, as he was pointing towards Morgul. Confirming that he was involved at least at some level with these crypts. “We’d be happy to leave if you could just point us to the exit” The Swordsmen said. Greaveth or the creature that appeared to be Greaveth replied with “Executioner, please show these fools out”. It’s cloak then spread like wings as it leap out the window, taking flight out over the crypt. Then a mass of chains that it had left behind began to move with life. They took the shape of a man, it even had what looked like a human head underneath the winding coil of chains. Its body covered by the chains and hanging from each arm were two hooks that would shift against the momentum of the creature’s movement. With the slightest movement, he sent all four of his hooks flying towards Morgul. The hooks dug into his flesh and he let out an agonizing yell. The cleric tried to rebuke the monster, but it only laughed at his efforts. Using this as an opening the Swordsmen decided to go for the man by the desk. But where was he? He must have fled when the beast attacked Morgul. So instead the Swordsmen attacked the chain beast delivering two mortal wounds, but this devil kept going. I readied my lance and charged in catching my lance in a coil of chains. This thing was going to be hard to take down. The devil then made eye contact with me and its face began to change. Its eyes turned from cruel empty voids to deep blue oceans of innocence and purity. The rusted blood-covered chains coiled around its head turned into flowing golden locks of hair. I was now looking into the eyes of a scared girl maybe a year or two older than I. The beauty that this beast had become may have routed a normal person but my time training as a Paladin in my past life had prepared me for this, leaving me unfazed. Seeing an opening in the demon’s focus, The Bard fascinated it with a spell lowering its ability to defend itself. The Cleric and the Swordsmen both took advantage of this opening delivering two more sizable attacks. Morgul then placed his hand on my shoulder, blessing my weapon with his magic. He then told me to strike this demon down. I then leaped into the air spinning my lance above my head to gain upward momentum and with all of my might and inner goodness I brought my weapon down into the face of the devil, still looking at me with the face of the girl it began to laugh at me as a rift began to form underneath it. The chain devil then dissipated leaving only a mass of chains behind. The Cleric said that the rift was the soul of the demon that was being reclaimed by the plane it came from. We had just defeated a demon from the depths of Hell itself.

We then searched the office for clues of who the dark figure was. As we searched, Morgul asked me if I had seen that girls face before, because chain devils use the faces of loved ones to torture their victims before they kill them. I couldn’t remember, but as I thought about it I realized I was toying the ring that I had on a necklace. Maybe I did know her. Maybe that devil knew more about me than I did. As I pondered the Swordsmen found a note from Greaveth, it explained that the crypt he was running was behind schedule and it would not be long before this would be looked upon as failure by his superiors. It continued to say that since Morgul had left they had been unable to control some of the stronger undead and he was one of the few remaining members of the staff. The only thing the note didn’t explain was the thing that flew out of the window was. It’s bird-shaped skull and the pool of congealed blood infested with a host of maggots were our only clues.

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