Arulia

The Source of Some Evil
Not All Evil, of course

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Talk To the King Again
Because that always works

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Journey Through Lalotai
Chance & Priya at the Devil's Stair

With all the words running amok in Mentori captured at last, the high temple in Asadra took the bag of words and sealed them in a case of lead. They presented the case to Chance, to store with the other dangerous artifacts they believed to be permanently sealed within Carnos’ Tower.

Chance knew the Tower was far less secure than the temple believed, and so he convinced Priya that they must, instead, be taken somewhere the words could be safely disposed of. The Outsider words were from beyond the mortal realm, however, and there was no where in the world they could be left. After consulting with Enaros, a mad plan was devised.

Far to the north lay a hidden isle, where men could find passage to dread Lalotai, the Realm of Monsters. Lalotai was a demi-plane, resting between the mortal world and the Infernal, and according to a map in Carnos’s library, it held both key and door to the realm below. Utilizing her connections with the Periwinkle, Priya was able to secure a boat to take them to the northern isle, and after fighting their way through the temple there, they descended into Lalotai.

The Realm of Monsters was all that the name implied, but with great care, and great fortune, Chance and Priya managed to slip through undetected until they reached the cave of the Lost Traveler.

Before time began, the Lost Traveler was a mortal, and exactly what his name implied when he stumbled upon the garden of Lerean. He had long since eaten all his food and drank the last of his water, so upon finding the sacred well, he drank deeply. Alas mortals were never meant for such, and he immediately fell ill. In his delirium, he stumbled back to the road, where he collapsed.

Passing by upon an errand for Anrahd, Lerean came across the traveler and took pity upon him, never knowing the cause of his sickness. She found the jug he carried was empty and so she refilled it from her pitcher before returning to her duties.

The water the Lost Traveler had sipped from the sacred well continued to work upon him, transforming the poor man into an obscene monstrosity. Eventually, he was driven from the world, and settled into his hermitage within the only place he could be tolerated. His proper hands lost in the transformation, the jug sat unopened, its contents undrank.

Finding him asleep, Chance slipped the jug away and returned to Priya with it. They journeyed further through that awful place to a formation known as the Devil’s Stair… a great volcanic tear. No mortal could survive such passage, but Chance had reasoned that a draught of Lerean’s power from the Lost Traveler’s Jug would fortify them enough to make it possible. It could also transform them into monstrous obscenities, but he reasoned that since each could only drink half, then perhaps they might be spared the worst of it.

And so they drank. And then, feeling its power upon them, both jumped into the Devil’s Stair and plunged through wind and fire into the realm Infernal. Both slipped from consciousness, and both awoke at the back gate of the Ducal Palace. Bribing the guards with bottles of perfume brought for that purpose, Chance was able to secure an audience with the Duke, to whom he suggested a wage…

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A letter from Priya & Chance!
There weren't any letters on this letter, were there?

I regret to report that Esadra is in chaos. It is good that my last letter mentioned my concerns over the rituals devised by the church for the destruction of the book. Carnos’s notes had indicated that the book was merely a vessel for the words, which might well survive the volume’s destruction. It seems we did not take his warning quite literally enough.

With the book gone, all seemed well for the first few days, but then the first mark struck. We first came across it in the marketplace, where a man assaulted me in broad daylight. He proved surprisingly durable to magical reprisal, and in the end, Priya was forced to strike him down. His face bore a tattoo in a strange character neither of us were familiar with. When the Esadran Guard finally arrived, the body was identified as a local merchant, but the tattoo we had observed was no longer upon his face. The next day, more seemingly random incidents were reported, all over town.

The Esadran Guard arrived at our lodgings in force, bearing a writ. Much to my surprise, the writ was not against me, but instead bore an accusation of heretical insurrection directed at Priya! She did not resist, and was promptly imprisoned. I was able to interview her, and she refused to deny the charges, but in the course of my visit, I discovered one guard bore a suspicious tattoo upon his shoulder. The symbol was different, but the script similar to that upon the man in the marketplace.

I suspected the books destruction may have somehow been involved, but as I had never dared look upon the words myself, I was unsure. I visited one of the priests involved in the ritual of the book’s destruction and he confirmed that the symbols I described seemed like those in the book. No sooner had he confirmed that than a group of armed men burst in upon us.

They each bore distinct tattoos, much like the other men I had seen. With the help of the temple priests, we put up a terrific struggle, but as the first few were felled, the words written on their skin slithered away, joining their fellows upon the skin of the next closest man yet living. The recipients of the new words grew stronger and more dangerous still, and by the time we had it down to three men, it was clear we could not win the fight.

We attempted to flee, but they did not pursue far. They claimed a book from the shelf, and opened it. A word slithered off of its pages and onto the man who opened it, and the three marked men left without another word.

On the basis of what they witnessed, the priests agreed that Priya was not responsible for the recent unrest, and she was released over her own objections. We have been working to contain the words, but it has proven difficult. They can hide on any surface that might contain a word, and their fell influence causes many strange things. We have found them on pages, boxes, men, and once even upon a building. What the words want, if anything, is unclear.

They were free when my last letter was sent. If it has arrived without incident, then perhaps all is well, and they have not left Mentori. If the letter bore a strange symbol, then (scribble~scrible~scribble). Above all, be wary. Strange markings, tattoos, words in no known tongue of this world, all are suspect. Trust no one who might bear some hidden mark, driving them to whatever madness the words intend.

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Another letter from Priya & Chance!
A visit to Chance's cousin.

Our journey to Esadra continues, despite delays. While we were staying with my cousin Enaro, he mentioned an ancient wizard learned in planar matters living on the nearby Mahos peninsula. Priya felt we should resume the course, but I convinced her that so unlikely a coincidence should be investigated. Mahos was not far out of our way, and as the lands fall within Enaro’s grant, he came with us to arrange accommodations in the town.

The wizard’s tower appeared to be in great disrepair, and seeing it unlit at night, we feared it abandoned. It was not! The tower’s master, calls himself Lord Carnos, and greeted me when I reached the top. After a brief discussion of our plight, he revealed a hidden stair for Priya and Enaro, and invited us in. Despite his apparent lack of servants, he provided an excellent repast, although it was a trifle bland. He has offered to lend his expertise in the riddle of the Book. Priya insists it must be destroyed, and while I agree, there is much we can learn of the enemy from it. Such advantages must not be ignored.

Carnos has conducted extensive studies of evil artifacts, and Priya was very uncomfortable in the presence of his collection. After discussion of the Book, his theoretical understanding of metaphysics seems quaint, but his practical expertise suggests several interesting new avenues for research. He offered to host us, but Enaro has already arranged lodging with the town’s mayor.

According to the townsfolk, Carnos is several centuries old! It was apparently a great honor that he hosted us. They say he only emerges in times of trouble, and are concerned what our meeting portends. A young woman was suspiciously absent from her home, and locals already blame the return a centuries old curse Carnos battled during his last appearance. Priya investigated the next morning, but has not yet found the woman, so she will continue searching while Carnos and I work on the book.

I regret to report that Carnos has deceived us. His collection of evil artifacts concealed that he was a source of great evil himself, and apparently responsible for the curse the townspeople credit him with fighting. He appears to be some sort of life draining immortal. He put up an impressive fight, but quieted once Priya separated his head from his shoulders. I am packing both the body and head in boxes of salt, hoping to preserve them for later study.

With some effort, I have determined how Carnos sealed the tower, and will do so before I leave, to prevent anyone from getting to his collection. As the land is within Enaro’s grant, he has agreed to let me have use of it to store these things until we have time to come back and study it further. And then destroy them, of course.

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