They say that your life passes before your eyes when you are facing death. All the Sensates I knew said that the mind went into overtime seeing if you missed something. The priests said that there wasn't any pain and it’s a peaceful experience. The Dustmen all claimed that you were dead already, and the True Death awaited those who could empty themselves of emotions and attachments. Sodding clueless berks they were. All I can say for the experience is…it’s both more painful and more boring than that.
But I’m skipping ahead; the morning came and the four of us discussed what to do next, and generally agreed to hit the market. Decided that I’m not going to hide now; I’ve seen one Tief and a lot of other primes types, but nothing resembling a Baatezu, so who am I hiding from? Surprise and stares seemed to be the worst part of that decision.
Led my adams through the upper districts as I decided that the Hate Night party that I wanted to attend was the one in the Palace. After fingering a seamstress for the chant discovered that invites are hard to come by. Tried to use my adams as a blind with them working for me; the painter looked like he was going to pop a gear or something. Told him he’s not a servant, he’s more valuable than that. Clearly a hired gun, but he tended to like the “contractor” idea best.
While banging around we did discover some things; the Waterbarroness apparently was collecting jink and stuff via a group about an hour north. One of the hunters escorted a wagon full of stuff related to the collecting. We got a name and headed out of town.
The compound was a wooden fence, and some leatherheads. Sounded like what they were doing was grave robbing the Elk Tribe’s burial mounds. Now while I’m personally ok with clearing the wilds and like, not as keen on robbing the deaders. Anything I remember from the shrine to Kelemvor just screams bad idea. Even the Dustmen had better manners than that.
So we left, headed a bit north off the road. Sometime near peak, found a pile of skulls. More like a shrine really, and clearly a gnoll pack’s offering to Yenoghu. Welcoming sight. Of course a bit north off the road, we found what we were looking for; a pack of sodding hyenas. And they were fast! No running going to happen here. I cast a quick bolt at one, and move up a bit, the painter dodges a pair. And then it happened; One bites hard on my boot, and a second leaps at my neck, I feel pain…I want to scream…and then…
My throat hurts, as does my leg, but its fading away. I’m standing alone in mist. It quiet, but not a peaceful quiet. A quiet…
Looking around requires effort. Feel slow and unrushed, but there is nothing to see, nothing to look at or see. Or is there a…?
It’s far, and large. Tall is a better word. Brain feels barmy, everything takes effort and I feel slow. I move towards the shadow. Shuffling. No need to rush.
This is familiar. Not a place I’ve been, a place I’ve heard of. A special place. Words are hard to find here. Then clarity:
I’m dead. I’m not upset. I’m not angry. I’m not happy. I’m incomplete. I focus a bit; to that part of myself that has a connection to power. I can see The Strand. It leads behind me in the distance. But I face the shadow and I see The Strand there too. Stronger. But not the source. I’m connected here, but from elsewhere. The Shadow has become clearer; it’s a tower. A dark smoky spire. But I see it glowing now because The Strand.
I feel yanked, behind me. I slowly turn around and see a black mist with The Strand leading into it. It feels wrong. Above it is a floating symbol. A triad of triangles in a long triangle. I know this symbol…it isn’t a good one. It’s not safe. Not right. Recoil. Retreat.
Return. It’s too soon. You aren’t done. Commit yourself to service. You will be rewarded.
It’s not the mist; it has a voice too. Like a honey peeler. The Cager in me recoils at that, it’s a bad barmy idea to take that mist. But the voice…who…why…where?
I’ve heard that voice before. Not here. In Ragpickers Square. The night when the Gatehouse was opened and all were released. The idol I saw…the idol I heard…the idol who’s power I found and grabbed onto.
I look at the spire; The Strand pulses with a pattern and that echo of the pattern is coming through that mist. It’s all connected.
I must have faith. I’ll return here. I walk to the mist, ignoring the dark honeyed words; Only The Strand matters. I feel…more. I feel…
My eyes open and I wretch. I feel…drained. I smell sulfur, tar and bile. I think I’m the source of the later. I sit up. I feel weak and I look down from the foul altar I was on. And I see them:
My soul is safe; but what have you done to yours my adams? I look at the Tief, the would be Kobold King and he’s a pleased as can be. It’s almost sad; I know he feels he has won something. Trying to live up to his nefarious parentage.
He doesn’t know the dark of the fiends;
Make a deal with a Baatezu; you get a contract, exactly what you want, and you die.
Make a deal with a Yugoloth; you get a contract; half of what you want, and you die.
Make a deal with a Tanar’ri; you get a smile; and maybe what you want, and you die in a gory mess.
You’re a plaything to them. You aren’t a partner. You’re fuel for another scheme. A thousand years your soul will be flayed until only the evil remains. Not your memories, not your deeds. You won’t be in charge. You won’t be rewarded.
You won’t be you.
But there’s another dark here. I remember when I met him he thought there was some great struggle between us. That I was his nemesis. Or Antithesis. I saw simply another Tief. They come in all forms; in looks, and in deeds. Knew a number in the Society. Some were bloods and some were bad bloods. Some were apples; others cutters. You could say the same about humans.
The Celstial hosts have a reputation too. Solars are a great example:
But they do not help people:
They Demand obedience.
They are implacable in their goals for the greater good, no matter the cost. My issues aren’t their concern and it isn’t relevant to them. What is, is if you draw their gaze and you are on the opposing side…well there is a reason that Pit Fiends and Balors fear them.
And so my gaze has been brought down on to this unfortunate soul. My adams can be saved, and will be saved from this cony.
But nothing on this plane will save him.
Day 6 – near After-peak
“A life for a life”
That was the deal…and the Kobold King had a silly embellishment of “No questions asked.” He’ll regret that one for certain.
And he’s inconsistent; We have questions; to how to succeed; he answered those. The one that is important he wouldn’t answer any way; “Who asked for and how do they gain from the Waterbaronesses death?” We don't need a silly "No questions asked" to know he isn't going to answer that. Not that my adams don't try of course.
He’s an Apple Chaser at best. He gains nothing but personal notoriety on getting a job done. He’s a piece on the chessboard; not the player. He just Thinks he’s a player. A classic Kobold King.
A bottle of poison, invitations, and a clothier for costumes and masks. And access to some gear. Silk rope comes to mind here.
But it must be done on the Hate Night. There is a theory that the Hate Night shifts things to another plane. A manifest zone; I’ve heard of such things, but never seen one.
Doesn’t matter. What does matter is if she has earned this death and how are we going survive. I seem to remember a saying in Sigil “When hunting heads, don’t forget a box for the hunter.” The Kobold King wants the job done and openly doesn’t care if we give the laugh or not.
He should learn to ask better questions.